Abe begins provocations from Day 1: Ye Olde Chosun

In an analysis piece entitled, “Nationalism takes back seat to the economy,” the Japan Times writes, “The lineup of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet seems to underline his determination to learn from his mistakes.”

Somehow, I don’t believe that’s how folk on our side of the East Sea will see it.

In a piece entitled “Japanese PM Abe Starts Provocations from Day 1,” the Chosun Ilbo notes that Abe’s cabinet includes Yoshitaka Shindo and Tomomi Inada, the two lawmakers who tried to enter Korea in August of last year to claim Dokdo for Japan.

Shindo and Inada are right wingers.The politically nationalist kind, not the Mike Bossy kind.

Also included was Keiji Furuya, who was appointed chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and state minister in charge of the abduction issue. That he was placed in charge of the abduction issue is particularly ironic given his role in the comfort women issue (see also here). Christ, it almost makes you sympathize with the North Koreans.

And then there’s Hakubun Shimomura, the new education minister. As chief cabinet secretary in 2007, Shimomura had this to say about the comfort women—“It is true that there were comfort women. I believe some parents may have sold their daughters. But it does not mean the Japanese army was involved.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    New year, new cabinet. Anybody want to guess how long this PM and cabinet is going to last? How many PM have the Japanese gone through within the last few years?

  • pipokun

    won’t last. big words little action. not exactly that different in korean politics if you ask me..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    except in korea people have to put up for the next 5 years. However I will say that the FTA that was signed with EU and USA is a big deal in the longrun. That’s something. Japan is mired in indecision and gets absolutely nothing done.

  • BobbyMcG

    Will be interesting to see from all sides. Prez Park already rebuffed a congratulatory visit from an Abe envoy. http://japandailypress.com/south-korean-president-declines-early-visit-from-japanese-envoy-2420371

  • wangkon936

    “I believe some parents may have sold their daughters. But it does not mean the Japanese army was involved.”

    Well, to start with they provided all the demand.  Without demand, there wouldn’t have been supply. 

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Additionally, in an exchage there are two parties. Who bought these daughters? And does that guy admit that, since there was an exchange and a seller, so necessarily a buyer, the Japanese (whoever, army, government) was engaged in trafficking people?

  • Cm

    Unless Japan take military action over Takeshima, there is little harm to Korea that Japan can do.  So all this will mean just more noise then anything.  Abe announced that Japan would send an envoy for friendship to South Korea after Park Geun Hye’s election victory, but South Korea refused the offer, and Japan had to withdraw the announcement.  As long as Japan has a trade surplus (which by the way is rapidly shrinking) with South Korea, South Korea will probably remain cool to Abe’s Japan, while probably strengthening ties with China.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    Military action against South Korea? I don’t think the US will go for that. The US is busy trying to build a build an coalition to try to check china and the last thing they want to happen is a rupture between allies. A more pressing concern is the account balance of Japan which is shrinking and the fact that most of their debt is domestically held. Sounds like a recipe for bankruptcy.

  • Cm

     That is why I think Japan will never be able to use the military on Korean conflict.  By the way, you can kiss that US lead coalition out the window, with Abe’s Japan in charge.  

  • http://twitter.com/joey89924 joey

    it almost makes you sympathize with the North Koreans.

  • http://twitter.com/joey89924 joey

    it almost makes you sympathize with the North Koreans.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Japan is venturing deeper and deeper into pathetic territory, i believe there are only 3 nations in the OECD group more incompetently run than mine. One is Spain, another one is France and the third, and worst one, is Japan. Notice i didn’t include Greece in the list.

    Get ready for “submerging” nation status in 10 years 

  • bballi

    In a one year context yes it has shrunk, but look at the surplus over time

  • Cm

     Make that two years, latest figures yet to be announced, show further 30% degradation of Japanese surplus on Korea for 2012.  Unlike in the past, Korean experts are pretty confident this time that this is a start of the long term trend toward a more balanced relationship. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    Japan will make Greece look like child’s play. Bigger economy, larger debt. 

  • Hitokiri Dom

    Careful with your words there Robert. Using the term “right-wing” for any Japanese person is anti-Japanese.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak

    Sober and lucid commentary on Japan is harder to find in Korea than good beer or cheese.  For Time magazine, his is a reasonably good look at Park’s foreign policy issues: http://world.time.com/2012/12/27/what-a-park-presidency-means-for-south-koreas-foreign-policy/?xid=rss-topstories  

  • imememememe

    Oh, goody! More bloody wars!!! What’s in it for me? How can I profit from this?

    Happy deadly new year, everybody! I’ll see you in 2014…if you make it.

  • que337

    Shindo and Inaba are not “any Japanese person.”  It’ s like calling hitokiri (assassin) as tsumekiri.

  • pipokun

    ok, but go to japan and you’re not seeing this on the surface level. everyone is doing just fine.

  • YangachiBastardo

    IMHO it was true til not very long ago as there was no sign of evident decline. The lost decades were effectively, in terms of standard of living of the average Japanese, largerly a myth.

     Since the last 3/4 years though i see signs of poverty multiplicating fast, i go there on average once a year and i am more and more shocked by how rundown Tokyo and its citizens in many cases seem to be

  • ig5959292ee

    meh, not surprising.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    What baffles me is their apathy. It just seems like the Japanese seem to be resigned to their fate. What ever happened to their confidence they had back in the 80s? 

  • pipokun

    where are you seeing this? i see “gentrification” everywhere in Tokyo in areas that were once for “cheaper”

  • YangachiBastardo

    Well parts of Shibuya and Shinjuku seem to be a shade of their former self, like nothing has been renovated or added in the past 20 years, an aftermath of the roaring bubble days i guess.

    Around the Shinjuku station i also noticed a visible presence of druggie types, something that, being Japan, kinda shocked me.
    Now i’m not gonna say i bumped into Natsuki Y. and the kids from the Shinjuku station but i was begged for money repeatedly by scroungy looking guys in their 20’s.

    I’m not trying to stir controversies or anything but, comparing to neighbouring Korea, younger generations  up til the 30’s don’t seem to live very large in terms of their basket of consumption.

    I’ll readily concede that nowhere in Japan i found the abject poverty of the older generations that routinely impress me when i visit Seoul (something i see more and more often here in Italy too by the way).

    I’ll also concede that my observation of the life and opportunities of the Japanese is largerly anecdotal and based on the circle of friends of my last girlfriend, some Japanese 39 years old divorcé.

    We met here in Milan where she used to work in fashion and dated on and off for approx. a year. The interesting thing was that most of her acquaintances back in Tokyo were also part of the fashion&arts scene. Most of ’em seemed to have enjoyed up til recently a decent career as store designers, photographers, editors for magazines etc. but at some point they ruinously slid back to freeter status in their late 30’s/early 40’s.

    Now she lives in China and she keeps telling me how everybody she knows wants out of Japan for some unspecified greener pastures, again not exactly an unknown phenomenon in Southern Europe either. 

    Now this is not exactly  a scientific approach to the matter, and up til recently i was firmly in the “This decline thing is BS” camp, still it put in my mind the idea that not all is well for the Rising Sun

  • pipokun

    i won’t deny or object to your observation. in fact, i like hearing about your observation on what you’ve seen. but we’re just exposed to different things and see a different perspective on what we see out there. i am also involved with those in the arts and fashion in Tokyo. So, I do frequent trips back and fourth out there. I see everything from the starving artists who dwell in the underground to those in high fashion that make you think about the crazy funds they have. i still think the current generation is doing just fine. if anything there is a growth in individuals who are able to do what they want VS. the standard salaryman route. 

    it’s great that you say there are those that wish to abandon the motherland and move. but is that happening at all? japan is pretty pathetic when it comes to those that wish to live abroad. it needs to happen more.

  • Cm

     Japan is heading towards $80 billion trade deficit this year, while the famous Japanese account surplus is down by more than 60% this year over last,  and rapidly heading towards negative territory soon.  If Japan was Korea, the entire nation would be in a crisis mode with calls for actions.  But in Japan, it seems it’s business as usual. Maybe that’s why pipokun can’t find any signs of something amiss.   Luckily for Japan, they have saved up a huge bank account, even as their income from their labor is shrinking.  But they will have to start dipping into their savings soon because their retirement age has arrived.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    Another thing about sings of poverty that YangachiBastardo’s observation is that Japan has been called a welfare superstate while Korea has among the lowest spending in welfare among the OECD nations. Also for Japan everytime they do stimulus packages to get the economy going they end up pork barrelling so in fact they wasted a lot of money on things of questionable economic value while critical infrastructure gets neglected. Japan as a lot of assets abroad to the tune of $3-$4 trillion that is earning them interest and propping up their current account. However they can’t move all that unless they want to risk a massive appreciation of the yen. 93% of their debt is domestically held that is coming from the savings that people put in banks. If current account goes negative money domestically will be flowing out of the country so you can imagine what that will be with funds saved up. 

  • mickster2

    Shmomura was DEPUTY chief cabinet secretary before, to be exact.
    And unfortunately, how the lineup looks to ROK was probably not high in priority.
    Abe is seen as hawkish himself anyway, and he will try to address the abduction issue because victims are vocal. But he will probably keep a low profile on the sex slavery issue and Dokto/Takeahima because there is no easy way out and domestic interest is low on these issues. Already bilateral economic relations are getting back to normal and China is more of an issue both politically and economically. Despite his nationalist talk, Abe has distanced himself from the Takeshima anniversary of Shimane Prefecture and will not staion gurads on the Senkakus or build port facilities there. Not out of respect, but because he wants to focus on domestic economy

  • mickster2

    Nail clipper is tsumekiri. And hitokri is an arcaic word, describing an assasin using a samurai sword.