According to Japan’s Nikkei Shimbun (and reported in the Maeil Gyeongje and other Korean papers), the Obama administration gave new Japanese PM Shinzo Abe a strong warning against revising the Kono Statement of 1993, in which the Japanese government apologized for the comfort women.
According to the Nikkei, Washington late last year told several high-ranking Japanese officials they should be very careful about revising the Kono Statement. A high-ranking Obama administration official told the paper that if Japan revised the statement, the United States would have respond concretely, including issuing an official statement of concern.
The United States is reportedly worried about Abe saying something that would lead to relations in the region growing even worse than they are now.
Abe is also getting summit snubbed. According to Japanese broadcaster NHK (and reported by the Chosun Ilbo), Abe announced—quite unilaterally—on Dec 18 that he would meet with Obama around the time of the latter’s inauguration. Well, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, causing a great deal of lost face for Abe, who has prioritized improving relations with the United States. Washington is citing a busy schedule due to the debt issue and inauguration and the fact that the administration has yet to put its second-term foreign policy team together. Diplomatic sources, however, say the United States is upset with Abe unilaterally announcing summits before they are decided and are unhappy with his vague positions on pending bilateral issues.
Marmot’s Note: Obviously, it’s still early, but my instincts are telling me Shinzo Abe 2.0 is going to be disaster.