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`Japan dilemma’ in East Asian politics

Posted August. 19, 2013 04:08,   


August 15 was the day when Japanese imperialism lost in World War II and Asian countries secured victory in their anti-Fascist, anti-militarism struggles. Imprinting in history the win and loss in the war and Japan’s crimes is the best measure to console victims of Japanese imperialists and an important foundation to achieve peace and freedom and to protect open order in East Asia today. However, Japan’s recognition of historical issue is increasingly deteriorating, while historical revisionism is emerging.

It is no longer secret that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and ranking officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are strongly leaning toward the rightist ideology. Abe made provocations in history issues on a number of occasions since taking power in December 26 last year. He claimed that there is no clear “definition” of “aggression,” and denied the comfort woman system for the Japanese military. On Thursday last week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged Japan “to commemorate Japanese soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War II for the nation.” The Abe administration beautified “Japanese imperialist troops” and “various criminals” in the name of “theory of compatriotism.” Historical revisionism has reached its peak.

The most worrisome matter in Japan’s inclination towards the rightist ideology is conversion of the “theory of World War II as original sin” to the “theory of compatriotism.” Even though Abe did not visit the Yasukuni Shrine and only made personal donation, Japanese politicians’ visits to the shrine are increasingly growing in scale. On August 15 last year, 55 Japanese lawmakers pushed ahead with their visits to Yasukuni, but as many as 102 legislators visited the facility this year. Former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said last year, “Japan will continuously reflect upon our acts that gave pain to Asian countries.” But this year, the Abe administration only demanded the Japanese people commemorate the memory of fallen Japanese soldiers.

At an event in Japan marking the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings on August 7, American movie director Oliver Stone said why Japan cannot afford to reflect upon its militarism as Germany does.” He also told Abe, “I can no longer trust you.” His remarks represent most accurate criticism of Japan’s revisionist view of history from the perspective of the West. But Japanese media did not report on Stone’s remarks. The Japanese government remained silent on the movie director`s remarks as well.

The Abe administration is pushing for historical revisionism with the aim of establishing a “new state centralism.” The view of nation centered on the Japanese imperialism is the core political logic of Japanese rightist group, including former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather from his mother’s side. It is a mechanism to bring about the Japanese people from the shadow of World War II and realize Abe’s dream that “Japan has made a comeback.” On top of this, the move has his hidden intention to secure mental and physical momentum to cope with “China’s rise” through revitalization of the Japanese economy by implementing “Abenomics” economic policy. For this reason, Tokyo does not deny its act of aggressions, but accepts historical judgment and criticism of Japanese aggressors. Also, it does not deny tragedy wrought by its aggression, but denies that aggressors’ acts run counter to national justice. It is denial of the results of war criminals’ trials in 1948, and denial of the international community’s recognition that any political ideology since World War II should observe freedom, equity and justice.

Japan complains that China and Korea are constantly raising issue with Japan’s past history. But Japan’s ill-advised view of history and historical revisionism that increasingly gathers momentum renders it impossible for Korea and China and the international community to tolerate. If the Abe administration and Japan’s rightists seek to call in the spirit of “imperialistic troops” from its militarist era and pay respect to the troops as its war heroes, Japan will become the biggest troublemaker in Asian politics. This will render it impossible for us to meet again Japan the way we know, or a country that upholds peace, and cause bigger conflict between Japan and its neighbors by spawning historical dispute and conflict in values.