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Tag: Shinzo Abe

Chosun Ilbo sorta blames US for Abe’s asshattery

Nobody will accuse the Chosun Ilbo of being instinctively anti-American, but in this morning’s editorial they call on the United States to do something about Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Interestingly enough, the editorial begins by citing a recent NYT and WaPo editorials criticizing Abe’s visit to Yasukuni (Marmot’s Note: I get the feeling the Chosun didn’t read the entire NYT editorial).

Then, however, the Chosun says Abe is behaving like he is because he thinks he’s got the United States behind him. The United States wants to use Japan to fill in the gap resulting from lower US defense expenditures. Abe knows this, and is spouting off with little concern about pissing off Washington. US criticism of Abe’s provocations have been little or none, while Washington has shown active support for Abe’s push to remilitarize Japan under the name of collective defense. This American attitude, says the Chosun, has brought about Abe’s miscalculations.

The Chosun wonders why the United States treats Abe’s historical distortions—and his denial of Japan’s wars as wars of aggression in particular—as somebody’s else’s problem when its an attack on the legitimacy of the sacrifices made by Americans killed in the Pacific War (note to Chosun Ilbo: in our defense, we did nuke two Japanese cities, which tends to release a great deal of han). If Washington had issued a strong warning to Abe, he would never have engaged in behavior that has essentially wiped out the historical reflection Japan had made so far. Meanwhile, Washington is telling Korea that it must deal with security issues and historical issues separately.

The Chosun Ilbo quotes the New York Times: “Japan’s military adventures are only possible with American support; the United States needs to make it clear that Mr. Abe’s agenda is not in the region’s interest. Surely what is needed in Asia is trust among states, and his actions undermine that trust” (Marmot’s Note: I think they skipped over the entire middle part criticizing President Park Geun-hye’s refusal to meet Abe as giving him the freedom to visit Yasukuni). Anyway, the Chosun warns that unless the United States gets Abe to apologize for the shrine visit and promise not to do it again, cracks will emerge in US strategy in Asia. Japanese money won’t be able to mend the harm done to the United States in the region by the wounds left in Korean hearts.

The Chosun notes that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a statement on Dec 28 welcoming the decision by Okinawa Prefecture to accept the Futenma relocation plan, saying the continuous partnership between the United States and Japan would strengthen. This came just a day after a State Department spokesperson issued a statement of regret over the Yasukuni visit. The Chosun thinks maybe Abe though he could pacify American protests to the shrine visit with this “gift,” and that we’ll soon learn whether he was right.

The Chosun concludes by warning US President Barack Obama, who’s visiting Japan in April, that without a fundamental shift in Japan’s attitude, the United States will find it difficult to get its new Asia strategy off the ground.

Marmot’s Note: Look, I think I’ve made it pretty clear I think Shinzo Abe’s a jerk. And yeah, I think there needs to be diplomatic consequences to some of his antics, including the recent visit to Yasukuni. As a friend, the United States needs to sit Abe down and explain to him in no uncertain terms that being a dick won’t help him achieve the goals that both he and the Americans want.

That said, it’s probably in everybody’s best interest—the Americans, the Koreans and the Japanese—to compartmentalize a bit here. Countries do this all the time. Turkey enjoys security cooperation with a large number of countries—including Korea, BTW—despite Turkey being pretty unapologetic about the Armenian genocide. As far as I know, America’s Middle Eastern allies don’t make security cooperation contingent on accepting the Arab view of the Crusades (Marmot’s Note: which, as everyone knows, were a defensive war).

For what it’s worth, I thought the US State Department statement was rather strong. Still, there’s only so loud the United States can get here. Japan’s an important US ally, and as I said in the previous paragraph, it’s hardly the only US ally with a questionable interpretation of history. Japan’s World War II history gives the United States a bit more latitude to speak, but even that has limits—interpreting one’s history is, after all, largely an internal matter. Mind you, I’m inclined to agree that Japan’s historical distortions are an insult to American veterans of World War II, but Japan is not the only country to insult US veterans of the Pacific War with bullshit interpretations of wartime atrocities (see also here).

731? Really, Mr. Prime Minister?

And in today’s Japan Facepalm Moment


No idea if this was bewilderingly accidental, intentionally offensive, or just the Japanese government taking the piss.

Stephane Mot has more on this at his blog.

Comfort Women: Uncle Shinzo feels your pain

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he feels the Comfort Women’s pain, but he doesn’t feel they should be a political or diplomatic problem:

Facing questions from an opposition lawmaker Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to comment on the government’s position on wartime sex slaves, but he did say he feels “heart-breaking pain” when he thinks of how their human rights were violated.

“In this sense, I’m no different than all of the prime ministers of the past. I don’t think this issue should be made into a political or diplomatic problem,” Abe told a Lower House session, answering questions from Japanese Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii about the “comfort women” issue.

“In history, there have been many wars and the human rights of women have been violated. It’s necessary to make the 21st century a century without human right violations,” he said.

So true. I mean, really, who among us hasn’t overseen a massive military-run human trafficking and sexual slavery racket?

When asked about the Kono Statement, Abe passed, saying, “The Kono statement was expressed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono. So I, as prime minister, would like to refrain from commenting further… I believe it’s appropriate for the (current) chief Cabinet secretary to deal with the issue.”

And you wonder why people doubt the sincerity of Japanese apologies?

Bad start for Abe on the American front: reports

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.

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.”

Shinzo Abe? Again?

Looks like we’ll have Shinzo Abe to kick around again:

Japan’s main conservative party is on course for a resounding victory in Sunday’s election, with exit polls indicating it could take control of two-thirds of the lower house, consigning the centre-left government to a crushing defeat.

The Liberal Democratic party (LDP), ousted from office just three years ago, has staged a dramatic comeback under its leader, Shinzo Abe, who as head of the largest party is assured of becoming prime minister.

Exit polls showed the LDP would win 296 seats in the 480-seat lower house, while its longtime ally, New Komeito, was on course to win 32 seats. Combined, the tally would give the parties the “super-majority” they need to take total control of both houses of parliament and end years of policy deadlock and instability

The news gets better—Shintaro “The Ish” Ishihara’s Japan Restoration Party looks like Japan’s third biggest party.

I hope the LDP sends a fruit basket to Beijing for services rendered. I wonder how this will impact this week’s presidential election in Korea, too.

Anyway, I look forward to reading the analysis at Mutant Frog.

Shinzo Abe, Toru Hashimoto and the Comfort Women

The Dong-A Ilbo is nervous about Shinzo Abe—who just got himself elected head of the LDP—possibly regaining his old job as Japanese prime minister. In an interview with the Sankei Shimbun last month, Abe said as prime minister, he would revise statements made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kiichi Miyazawa, another ex-cabinet chief Yohei Kono and former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama (see also here).

Those would be the statements about Japanese colonial rule, Japan’s wars of aggression and the Comfort Women.

The Dong-A doesn’t say how he might revise them, but I’m guessing he’d prefer something more along these lines (found via one of my Facebook friends. Hamel should get a kick out of it).

According to the Dong-A, nothing about Abe has changed since his last stint as PM.

Meanwhile, former Osaka governor Toru Hashimoto—who would also like to be prime minister—told reporters he would like to meet the Comfort Women.

Hashimoto said he wanted to clearly tell them that while he naturally understand how they feel (Marmot’s Note: No, he doesn’t), there is no evidence that they were forcefully dragged off with violence, threats or kidnapping.

I’m sure they’d take that quite well.

Hashimoto caused a stir when he tweeted at length about the Comfort Women—you can read the translation here.

For their part, the House of Sharing did invite Hashimoto—and The Ish, or all people—for a visit.

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