Monday, July 6, 2015
The 70 Years after Japan’s Unconditional Surrender-3: The Prime Minister Did Not Read the Potsdam Declaration
On May 20, 2015, during the political leaders’ debate session of the Japanese Diet, Shinzo Abe made a shocking statement. When the head of the Japanese Communist Party, Kazuo Shii, asked the prime minister if he had ever read the Potsdam Declaration, Abe replied that he had not read it carefully. Unfortunately, not only the foreign presses but also the Japanese media have totally ignored this news. However, while the majority of the news media discounted this news, the JCP website at http://www.jcp.or.jp/akahata/aik15/2015-05-23/2015052301_01_1.html published the article. There is some humor in the story. After the Japanese government realized that the prime minister had made a serious mistake, the Japanese politicians began a “funny game.” In the following days, one of the Diet members from Ishin no kai, another conservative party, sent a questioner to the prime minister’s office to ask whether the prime minister read the declaration. Of course, the prime minister’s office issued an answer saying that Shinzo Abe had read the Potsdam Declaration. However, Abe was not prepared for Mr. Shii’s question.
In conclusion, I should note a couple of interesting points in Japanese politics. First, all of the debates in the Japanese Diet are prepared by bureaucrats in advance. There should not be “prepared” questions as part of the Japanese Diet. In other words, all debates in the Diet are just for “show” in front of television cameras for Japanese citizens. Second, the real personal character of Abe regarding issues surrounding WWII has been revealed. No wonder he has launched the idea of Sengo rejimu kara no dakyaku (戦後レジームからの脱却) [to get away from the postwar regime]. Abe wishes to create his own constitution without Article 9.
Friday, July 3, 2015
The 70 Years after Japan’s Unconditional Surrender-2: Which Way for “Abenopolitics:” An Analysis of the Joint U.S. Congress Speech
In the second term of the Abe administration, “Abenomics” (portmanteau Abe and economics), which Prime Minister Abe Shinzo himself created, became a famous concept throughout the world. Abenomics indicated Abe’s economic policy, containing three main parts: the Japanese quantitative easing (QE) system of printing massive quantities of Japanese yen (just like the American QE system provided by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke), a large stimulus package, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, not as many people are familiar with “Abenopolitics” — portmanteau Abe and politics — referring to Abe’s political policy. Abenopolitics can also be characterized by three elements: leaning toward the United States, creating anti-China networks, and denying World War II (WWII) history.
Two arguments have emerged within the intellectual community regarding Abenopolitics: the “demand” of an apology for Abe and the “no-win” situation for Abe. The former was proposed by Alexis Dudden from the University of Connecticut, who organized 20 American historians and published an open letter to the American Historians Association in March denouncing Abenopolitics, citing Abe’s revisionist view of WWII history, such as the New York Japanese Consulate General demanding that McGraw-Hill publishing company correct the depiction of comfort women. The latter was brought forth by Nancy Snow, a recipient of the Abe Fellowship, who wrote a piece entitled “Branding Japan beyond Abe” in the Japan Times in May, arguing that “Whatever Abe says, he will be met with a lot of negative pushback. It’s a no-win for him.” Since then, Abe attended two important international activities: the Bandung Conference on April 22 and the Joint U.S. Congress on April 29, something his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, had never accomplished in his lifetime.
In fact, Prime Minister Abe is going to deliver a speech on August 15, 2015, on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s unconditional surrender, based on his speeches to Congress and during the Bandung Conference (According to the Japanese media he might even make his “personal” Augut-15 statement without the Cabinet approval). Unfortunately, the first-ever Japanese prime minister to give a Joint Congressional speech has serious problems, including revisionist views of the war.
In the beginning of his speech, Abe mentioned some politicians and diplomats, including Caroline Kennedy, who have brought “democracy” to Japan. However, he never mentioned Mike Honda, who has been leading the demands for Japan’s apology to comfort women. He totally ignored Congressman Honda’s presence, as if Honda were not a member of the U.S. Congress. In addition, Abe has never mentioned General Douglas MacArthur, who was the real commander-in-chief of the Allied Powers, imposing American values including democracy on Japan during nearly seven years of occupation. MacArthur is the actual figure who brought democracy to Japan.
Source: Protesters are in the front of the U.S. Congress where Abe is given his speech.
Photography by Unryu Suganuma
Second, Abe mentioned democracy in Japan, but he has never stated why and how that democracy was imposed by the United States, because the Rising Sun had invaded and abused many people in the world during wartime. That is, the democracy in Japan did not originate from the Japanese themselves but was imposed by the Americans. Next, in his speech, he states that “History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone.” Well, if he really believes that “history is harsh,” he should at least acknowledge the Japanese imperial army’s brutality carried out during WWII. Even though the prime minister expressed his “eternal condolences” to American soldiers, his apology was insincere and merely paid lip service. Just as with the expression of “deep remorse” over the Japanese war, Abe was merely upholding the view of previous prime ministers, meaning the Murayama statement in 1995. If he really believes, as he stated in his speech, that “We have come all this way. I am proud of this path we have taken,” he should declare that he will uphold Article 9 of the Japanese constitution forever.
Third, introducing Lt. Gen. Lawrence Snowden is shameless for Abe’s revisionist view of history. Trying to “justify” the Japanese military battle of Iwo Jima is not right. Snowden’s personal opinion cannot be “reconciliation” between invader and victims because the aggressor (i.e., the Japanese government) has not sincerely apologized to the victims. In addition, Abe brought out General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, who was the commander of the Japanese garrison during the Iwo Jima battle. How could he bring out General Kuribayashi, who probably killed as many American soldiers as he could in Iwo Jima, to claim a “bonding in spirit” between American and Japanese soldiers? It is totally shameless trying to justify what the imperial Japanese army did during the war.
Source: Protesters are in the front of the U.S. Congress where Abe is given his speech. Photography by Unryu Suganuma
Fourth, “We must … seas of peace and freedom, where all follow the rule of law. For that very reason we must fortify the U.S.-Japan alliance. That is our responsibility.” Since the 1970s, Japan has ensnared Washington into the Sino-Japanese territorial conflict regarding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Putting the responsibility on the U.S. side is Abe’s victory. Unfortunately, not many Americans, including those in the media, politicians, bureaucrats, and academia, realized this fact.
Fifth, Abe shamelessly stated, “To turn around our depopulation, I am determined to do whatever it takes. We are changing some of our old habits to empower women….” Two points here: First Abe himself has contributed to the depopulation in Japan because he has neither “produced” any children himself nor adopted any children. If he really meant “whatever it takes,” Abe should pass a bill that would allow all children, from elementary school to graduate school, to attend school for free (just as in Norway and Sweden). He can do it because his party (i.e., the Liberal Democratic Party) has the majority vote in both houses.
Finally, Abe shared a Carole King song to conclude his speech because Japan faced the darkest night on March 11, 2011. It is totally wrong that he claimed “a nuclear accident” in Fukushima because it was his LDP party, once again, that brought the nuclear power plants into Japan, particularly former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. It is also his party that is responsible for creating the “Japanese Pentagon” — politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, media, and scholars — which has acted with “mafia like fraud” because it brainwashed the Japanese citizens from the 1950s to 2011. Even today, Abe, along with many members of the LDP, still insists on restarting the most dangerous nuclear power plants even though the Fukushima mess has not been cleaned.
In the end, Abe’s speech was problematic as he took a revisionist view of history. Abe was shameless to make such a speech when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had declared war on Japan after the latter had launched a lightning attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Furthermore, House Speaker John Boehner made a serious mistake by inviting the Japanese prime minister and giving him the opportunity to speak to the American people at one of the most sacred places in the United States. Now Abe will be compared to respected world figures, such as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Yitzhak Rabi, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, and Corazon Aquino, who also gave speeches to the Joint U.S. Congress. Has Abe’s work to this point qualified him to be in the same category as those esteemed world figures?