Posts Tagged ‘Shinzō Abe’

Japanese right-wingers continue to try and rewrite history

February 4, 2014

Victors write history.

But almost 70 years after the end of the Second World War the militaristic faction of the Japanese right-wing are still in a state of denial about the result. Their attempts to rewrite history – especially the actions and behaviour of the Japanese military in China – have never ceased but have never before had much impact or much support even within Japan. The Nanjing massacre and the use of comfort women by the military in occupied territories are often downplayed or even denied by the revisionists. But now there is a rightist party in government which is in tacit agreement with many of these extreme views.The most potent symbol for the militaristic and nationalistic heritage in Japan is the Yasakuni shrine. As Mark Selden writes

Japan’s Yasukuni problem is inseparable from the fact that nationalism is the dominant ideology of our era. …… In the postwar, with Japan at peace and occupied by US forces, the shrine has played a role in structuring how the war is remembered and presented to the Japanese people. It did so within a framework crafted by the occupation authorities who exonerated the emperor of all responsibility for initiating or waging war. ….. Not only would the emperor not be deposed or tried as a war criminal, he would be shielded even from testifying at the Tokyo Trial. The verdict at Tokyo, sentencing Tojo and a small number of prominent military and government officials to death, as well as the convictions of thousands of soldiers and police officials tried in B and C class tribunals, in leaving untouched Japan’s supreme wartime leader, essentially absolved the Japanese people of the responsibility to examine their own behavior in the era of colonialism and war. For these reasons, the US as well as Japan ultimately shares responsibility for resolving issues of war responsibility that it helped to create, including those associated with the emperor and with Yasukuni Shrine. 

Emperor Hirohito at the Yasakuni shrine 1935

Emperor Hirohito at the Yasakuni shrine 1935

Just a month ago the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasakuni Shrine to honour the convicted war criminals enshrined there.

BBCWhatever Shinzo Abe says, any visit to the Yasakuni shrine by a Japanese prime minister is deeply political and sure to cause offence. In the 1960s and 70s, the spirits of scores of convicted Japanese war criminals were “enshrined” there. The most controversial were the 14 “Class A” war criminals, including wartime leader Hideki Tojo, who were “enshrined” in the late 1970s. These men were the ones who ordered and oversaw Japan’s brutal war in China and South East Asia. …..

…… Close observers of the Japanese prime minister say he is at heart a nationalist and a historical revisionist. He believes the trials that convicted Japan’s wartime leaders were “victors’ justice”. His own grandfather Nobusuke Kishi served in the war cabinet and was arrested by the Americans on suspicion of being a Class A war criminal. He was later released without charge.

School text books are now beginning to downplay or remain silent about Japanese atrocities (not that they have ever been fully accepting of their occurrence or of Japanese responsibility). Now this revisionism is spreading to the national broadcaster NHK and again with some support from the government.

JapanDailyPressThe Japanese public broadcasting firm NHK is under fire again as another senior manager sparked controversy over his comments denying any massacre from happening in the Nanjing province of China in 1930s. Naoki Hyakuta, member of the 12-man management committee for programming policy and budget-setting, denied reports of rape and murder by Japanese troops in China during 1937-38, shrugging it off as “propaganda.” …… 

…. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga justified the right-wing novelist’s statements, saying that he is entitled to his opinions. Speaking to the press, he said that he is aware of the reports “but has learnt (expressing personal views) doesn’t violate the Broadcast Law.” Fears of the broadcasting firm molding into PM Abe’s nationalist policy are starting to circulate with Hyakuta’s comments following new chief Katsuto Momii’s statements last month about the use of “comfort women,” or sexual slaves, being a normal practice during wartime, with many other nations doing the same.

Jan 31, 2014:The already embattled new chief of NHK is set to face a Diet committee today on claims that his comments about the “comfort women” system of World War II can be considered “political interferance.”  ……. Katsuto Momii will be grilled by the Parliament over his statement during his first press conference as the new chairman. He said that the use of sexual slaves, or comfort women, during times of war was also being practiced by other countries like France, Germany, and the United States, among others. While he has already apologized for his comments, saying they were his personal beliefs and not that of NHK, the international furor over it has not abated. ….

Certainly there is a growing concern about growing Chinese might in South East Asia and this concern is partially shared in the US. So the US, while disapproving of the revisionist trends in Japanese government circles, has been fairly mild in its criticism as long as the Japanese target is China. In the territorial disputes between Japan and China for example the US generally supports the Japanese positions.

I perceive a risk that as the Japanese commercial predominance weakens there could be an upsurge in the militaristic ambitions of the nationalistic right. It is only my perception of course but having lived in Japan and in Germany, I sense a greater risk of sudden chaos with the Japanese militaristic nationalists than with the German neo-Nazis. The manner is which the rest of Europe acts as a check and balance against extremism is something missing in Japan.

‘Tis the day after Christmas – Limericks (5)

December 26, 2013

‘Tis the day after Christmas and we have had no snow,

Erdogan in Turkey has suffered another blow,

Against China, Shinzo Abe tries to draw a line,

As in full tie and ‘tails he visits the Yakasuni shrine,

And down under at the MCG, England are 173 for four.

‘Tis the day after Christmas and it is time to end the mirth,

The Queen said very little beyond Prince George’s birth,

Obama basks in Hawaii in this time of austerity,

And in his annual Christmas speech, he called for charity

The Kiwis and the Windies, in Auckland, are battling to the death.

‘Tis the day after Christmas but I am not depressed,

One day older every day but much new to be addressed,

Misery and mayhem everywhere and so very antagonistic,

And yet I have no problem in staying optimistic,

Two more out at the MCG, and England are distressed

Abe wins and Rudd loses while Kerry lobbies for Obama’s war

September 8, 2013

It is a misty Autumn morning this Sunday and the last week has had its mix of stories. But a few small encouraging events are over-shadowed by the darkness of Obama’s determination to go to war. Abe won for Tokyo while Rudd lost for Abbott and Kerry lobbies the world for money and support for Obama’s war.

Shinzo Abe made a personal commitment to the IOC that the Fukushima radiation leaks were and would be under control. Tokyo was awarded the 2020 summer Olympic Games yesterday in Buenos Aires beating Istanbul by 60 votes to 36. Madrid had crept up to be perceived as a front runner with their low key, “low cost” games but the mood was not for “restraint”. Delegates were getting tired of financial crises. Moreover they were tired of doping scandals and these could not be ruled out in Madrid or Istanbul. And once Madrid lost to Istanbul in a run-off for second place, the Madrid support – especially from Europe and the Americas – was not ready to let the Games go to an Islamist country for the first time ever. Of Madrid’s initial 26 votes in the first round, only 10 went to Istanbul in the final voting. And that left Tokyo which is a good thing

In Australia, the bookies and the national polls turned out to be pretty well right. Kevin Rudd lost and Tony Abbott won as a consequence. But the Labour loss could have been much worse.  A clear majority in the Lower House for the Coalition but not in the Senate where they only secured the avoidance of a Red/Green majority. The Carbon Tax is toast but it will take a bit of horse trading in the Senate to finally bury it.  The peculiar nature of preference votes means that the Senate composition will not be firm for a few days and there will be some new Senators which could lead to some unusual alliances. The Greens will actually have an extra Senator but thier alliance with Labour may not be as clear-cut. The overbearing self-righteousness of Australian bureaucracy may begin to be curbed. Tony Abbott has already asked his bureaucrats to prepare to stop the Carbon Tax and to stop the asylum boats. The Carbon Tax may well go in 2014 and that is a good thing.

And in the meantime President Obama pursues his war with no objectives. He flew back to the US to shore up domestic support for his war on Syria. He is scheduled to make his weekly address on Tuesday and to have six interviews with leading news anchors broadcast on Monday. Remarkably it is the hawks and neo-cons in the US who are the strongest supporters of his war.. A “coalition of mutual contempt” according to the Atlantic.  John Kerry is travelling around Europe lobbying the European countries. His list of countries supporting the US is “now into double figures”. Even self-appointed policemen have to be paid and Kerry is also meeting with the Arab League in Paris today and its members have offered to pay for the entire cost of Obama’s war! A strike on Syria by the US seems inevitable and that is a bad thing.

Commonsense returns as Japan “reviews” its 2040 nuclear abandonment plan

December 27, 2012

In spite of the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, it was never sufficient to justify the hysteria which ensued and the knee-jerk anti-nuclear decisions taken not only in Japan but also in Germany and other countries. The alarmist, anti-nuclear hysteria often seems to forget that it was the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami which killed around 18,000 people (15,878 dead with 2,713 missing). The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant incident killed no-one directly. There may well be some indirect deaths which can and will eventually be attributed to the nuclear plant accident but there were no deaths caused directly.

Nevertheless Japan and Germany announced hasty, panic-ridden plans to abandon nuclear power. Greens began to rejoice and then started to realise that there is no practical alternative to nuclear power other than large-scale hydro-power and fossil fuels. The pipe-dream of thinking that base-load nuclear power could ever be replaced by unreliable and intermittent wind or solar power began to be seen for the mirage it was.  The high electricity price which has resulted has also seriously disdvantaged industry and hit households hard. Reality has begun to sink in.

Now Japan has a new government and a new Prime Minister. The task of reversing the fear-driven decisions (invariably bad decisions) of the past has begun. A “review” has been ordered and the results are inevitable …..

BBC: The new government in Japan has announced it will review the planned nuclear power phase-out proposed by the previous administration.

Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that reactors would be restarted if considered safe by the nuclear authority. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised bold measures to revive the economy. The stoppage of nuclear power use by 2040 was ordered following last year’s Fukushima disaster.

….. Veteran trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who is also in charge of energy policy, made it clear that the government would not allow its plans to be hampered by higher energy costs.

“We need to reconsider the previous administration’s policy that aimed to make zero nuclear power operation possible during the 2030s,” he told a news conference. ….. 

…… “A strong economy is the source of energy for Japan. Without regaining a strong economy, there is no future for Japan,” Mr Abe said after taking office.

The prime minister had also said that he would allow nuclear energy a bigger role, despite last year’s disaster. Japan, which relied on nuclear power for almost one-third of its energy supplies before the incident, shut all its 50 nuclear reactors after the leaks, but recently restarted two of them. The move has resulted in higher energy costs, and many big businesses want Japan to return to using nuclear power.

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