Monday, April 27, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Advice For Abe

Maybe the Globe should offer it to the U.S. government instead: 

"Japanese people were also victims of their own irresponsible leaders, who led them into a catastrophic war. That said, it’s current leader must make amends." 

Well, he's had enough time to do that (made things worse in fact, with his own wars), so we will just have to wait for the next one.

"Japan must take responsibility for its past" by The Editorial Board   April 24, 2015

JAPAN’S prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is slated to visit Boston Sunday at the start of a weeklong US trip that will showcase just how remarkable the US-Japan alliance is. In the 70 years since World War II, one of America’s greatest enemies has transformed into one of its most important allies.

Some of the biggest security challenges in the world are in Japan’s backyard: an increasingly assertive China, a nuclear-armed North Korea, and a Russian president who respects few boundaries.

As opposed to a U.S. president that respects none.

My advice to you is to stop reading this.

Managing those problems successfully requires a strong and capable Japan. Meanwhile, the economic rules of the world are being rewritten with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. From trade to climate change to nuclear nonproliferation, Japan is a key player.

To benefit of corporations.

That’s why it’s so unfortunate that Abe’s visit will be overshadowed by one thing and one thing only: his view of history.

Is the Globe minimizing the barbaric savagery of Japanese occupation? 

I have been noting the selective focus regarding genocides, and it is strange to see the Globe flip-flop here. 

That being said, I would wish to note -- and have remarked on it to people in the past -- that the Japanese slaughter in South Asia is often subsumed to the greater Holocaust east. My criticism of M$M focus should not be taken as approval of atrocities. It is simply putting it in perspective.

As he dines at Secretary of State John Kerry’s house, speaks at Harvard’s Kennedy School Forum, and, later in the week, becomes the first Japanese prime minister to address a joint session of Congress, people will be distracted by this question: Will he apologize to women from South Korea and elsewhere who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II?

No big to-do about addressing Congre$$ like that other guy?

Abe hails from a political faction in Japan that downplays past atrocities.

Much like the Zionist media plays down Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. 

It denies that Japan’s military created “comfort stations” for its soldiers, suggesting instead that they were merely brothels run by Korean syndicates. Some also advocate removing references to the 1937 massacre in Nanking, China, from textbooks.

It's tough to get to the bottom of history.

Japanese writers who have published confessions by Japanese soldiers admitting involvement in these crimes have received threats from their country’s far-right groups.

Officials in Abe’s administration say that Japan has already apologized numerous times, and that no apology has satisfied South Korea. It’s true. From 1993 to 2010, Japanese officials issued approximately 20 statements of apology and remorse. The government also helped establish the Asian Women’s Fund, a quasi-governmental entity that paid medical bills for former “comfort women” out of government funds and raised private donations to compensate the women for their suffering. Women were also sent personal letters of remorse signed by Japan’s prime minister at the time.

But in South Korea, where national pride is built atop resentment of a former colonial occupier, women who accepted funds from Japan were excoriated in the press. Many demanded that the Japanese government make more far-reaching admissions of responsibility, and that compensation come from government coffers, not private donations.

Instead, Japan has done just the opposite. While Abe has said he will uphold past apologies, he has also made it clear that he does not believe that Japan’s military was responsible for the tragedy that befell “comfort women.” Abe’s stance reflects the fact that many in Japan have either grown tired of showing remorse for the past, or never felt that remorse in the first place.

I can understand that. We all know a person in our life who will hang an apology over your head forever. That's not to excuse the behavior, but sometimes people need to get over it -- especially when most of us were not even alive at that time and are ass-deep in atrocities today!

Japan’s view of history matters today because it is an obstacle to better relations with South Korea, a neighboring democracy and US ally that is also key to addressing security challenges in the region. During the era of apologies in the 1990s, South Korea and Japan took significant steps toward building a better working relationship. But over the past four years, relations have hit rock bottom.

Indeed, just as the European Union would have been impossible without Germany’s widely accepted admission of guilt for the Holocaust, a new and much-needed security alliance between democratic countries in Asia will be impossible as long as Japan is viewed as a denier of its past abuses. 

I don't even want to argue it anymore.

Even if Abe’s views were generally validated by historians outside Japan — and they are not — it would still be in Japan’s interests to send a message of mutual respect to its neighbors. What could be the harm in saying words that might bring relief to a handful of traumatized, elderly women who may not live to hear another Japanese prime minister say them?

Good point.

And while it is true that Japan cannot force forgiveness out of the hearts of those women, or South Koreans in general, gestures by Japanese officials can leave the door open for such reconciliation to take place in the future.

A powerful, confident country can afford to make such gestures. Japan’s failure to do so would raise questions about the country’s ability to be a leader in the region and the world.

If anyone should understand Japan’s internal struggle over the proper amount of remorse to show, it’s the United States. The United States, too, harbors a powerful faction that believes strong, confident nations don’t dwell on their mistakes.

It was all a "mistake?"

After all, a political candidate in the last presidential election — Mitt Romney — ran on a platform of “No Apology.” The nation has even struggled over whether to apologize to Japan for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

We haven't (well, I have), and should. There was no call to do that.


"In New York on Sunday, global activists presented 8 million petitions to the UN disarmament chief demanding a world free of nuclear weapons, as world leaders prepared to meet to review progress on world disarmament. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference happens every five years, and experts have warned that little progress is expected this time, especially with relations cool between the two largest nuclear powers, Russia and the United States. The more than a thousand demonstrators demanded that the world’s nine nuclear-armed countries do far more toward cutting stockpiles. Many protesters were from Japan, the only country ever hit by a nuclear attack. Fragile survivors of the US attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago led the way in wheelchairs."

You know, maybe if....

"President Kennedy had planned to make in 1964 that would have made him the first sitting US president to visit Japan. “The legacy that John F. Kennedy has left is leadership, the power to dream, and the decision to eliminate inequality,” Abe said. “I believe that the moral leadership that the US has shown is what the world needs today. Japan has to be a country in which young people can dream.” Abe was scheduled to have dinner at Secretary of State John Kerry’s home Sunday, and visit the site of the Boston Marathon bombings before leaving for Washington, D.C. Monday night."

I don't know about the inequality thing, but he was opposed to the nuclear stuff.

Of all countries, the United States should understand that Japan was not only a brutal occupier and perpetrator of atrocities during World War II. Japanese people were also victims of their own irresponsible leaders, who led them into a catastrophic war. That said, it’s current leader must make amends. 

Even if it might get him shot.

Japan’s incredible rise from the ashes of that war into a peaceful democracy that built the world’s second largest economy should be what we mark in this 70th anniversary year. It’s a shame that this celebration will be diluted by the understandable focus on what Japan’s prime minister has said — or not said — about the past.



"Dr. Tsien, who was born in China in the twilight of the reign of its last emperor, was a young librarian during the Japanese occupation, which lasted from 1931 until the end of World War II. Working in secret, he was charged with keeping a trove of precious volumes, some dating to the first millennium B.C., from falling into the occupiers’ hands. Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, some 60,000 rare books, among China’s foremost cultural treasures, had been moved from Beijing to Shanghai for safekeeping. In 1937, he fled Nanjing with more than a dozen family members just before the Japanese massacre known as the Rape of Nanking, which resulted in the killing of more than 300,000 civilians and the raping of more than 80,000 women. Settling in Shanghai, he joined the national library’s branch there. By 1941, Shanghai’s harbor and customs office were under the control of the Japanese, who would have seized the books and probably destroyed them. Had Dr. Tsien’s work been uncovered, he would almost certainly have been executed. The last crates left China on Dec. 5, 1941, two days before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor."

Time to close the book on this post.

Also see: Twin protests hit South Korea

They didn't hit the Globe because that was not in print.


US and Japan step up cooperation on defense

Captain of doomed ferry sentenced to life in prison

Neither one of those made my printed paper today(?), but this did:

"Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo formally stepped down Monday, apologizing about a scandal in which he was accused of taking an illegal cash gift from a businessman. Lee was the second prime minister to resign under President Park Geun-hye. In South Korea, the prime minister’s post is largely a ceremonial job, with the administrative power concentrated in the president. But the minister is the No. 2 official in the government hierarchy, and his stepping down in disgrace reflects poorly on the president. Park accepted his resignation Monday, shortly after returning from a trip."