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    Prime Minister Abe is headed to China and Korea for state visits:

    Just before taking off, Prime Minister Abe spoke to the press corps at Haneda Airport about the issue of Japan’s acknowledgement of its history, stating emphatically, “We will act based on humble reflection on the past. I would like to make that the basis of my discussions [with the PRC and ROK] and look toward the future.” On the Yasukuni Shrine issue, he stated, “I want to explain that most successive Prime Ministers paid their respects to those who died for their country and that we have made our pilgrimages in a spirit of seeking peace.”

    Well, since that’s the way the issue’s been “explained” to the rest of East Asia for years now, I’m not sure what’s supposed to make it more persuasive this time–especially since it’s now going to be coming a from a known nationalist and apologist for Japan’s wartime conduct.

    Of course, in that vein, Abe is already maneuvering himself into a public position of greater neutrality:

    Abe was asked by Naoto Kan of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) his views on a statement issued by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on Aug. 15, 1995, marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, in which the government expressed remorse for its military actions during the conflict.

    “I have no plans of creating a new statement that would rewrite what the 1995 statement said,” Abe said. “That statement was approved by the then Cabinet so it still lives on with my Cabinet.” Abe also said that he, as prime minister, and the Cabinet had inherited a 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the “comfort women” issue.

    Not all his equivocations are politically advantageous:

    In a typical Diet exchange Wednesday, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Tadayoshi Ichida asked Abe about his thoughts on the view of history portrayed at Yasukuni Shrine. “Are you of the opinion that World War II was a war of justice seeking liberation of Asia, as has been argued by Yasukuni Shrine?” Ichida asked.

    Abe responded, “While I do not know if Yasukuni Shrine holds to the position that you have just stated, politicians should be humble when talking about the pros and cons of specific views of history.”

    A stunned JCP leader Kazuo Shii said Abe’s understanding of history issues was even more unfathomable than the views expressed by his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.

    “(Abe) did not even say that the stance of his government was different from that of Yasukuni,” Shii noted.

    Of course, Abe doesn’t have to worry much about making the Japan Communist Party happy; it’s the PRC that’s going to be difficult to mollify. Not that (back to the Nikkei piece) Japan is the only neighbor it’s irritated with:

    In connection with the DPRK’s declaration that it will conduct nuclear experiments, [Abe] indicated that he “want[s] to speak frankly with the Chinese and Korean leaders about the situation. We have to send a message that if North Korea does not stop its nuclear experiments it will be isolated from the international community.”

    The Abe cabinet has its work cut out for it on military matters. As predicted, it’s looking into thinking about Article 9 and how Japan needs to adapt to new realities, including the possibility of collective liberation self-defense missions:

    The government’s interpretation is that Japan has the right of collective self-defense, but cannot exercise it.

    Shiozaki’s remark indicated that the government intends to change the conventional interpretation of the right, though it will limit the number of cases in which the right of collective self-defense could be applied.

    Shiozaki said: “The security situation in the world is changing, and Japan is urged to make efforts to make the Japan-U.S. alliance work properly. The prime minister’s policy on the right of collective self-defense is to again discuss whether the conventional interpretation of the right by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau is appropriate in all cases.

    New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party, has agreed to studies concerning the right of collective self-defense, but has strongly opposed changing the interpretation to allow the government to exercise the collective self-defense right.

    What’s mildly alarming about this article is that it mentions interpretation rather than amendment of the constitution. I certainly hope that’s not the direction the Abe government plans to pursue. (It wasn’t before he was elected.) Interpreting the constitution to mean whatever the current government wants it to mean strikes me as an unwise precedent. I’d much rather see a straightforward amendment.

    One Response to “冷却化した関係修復”

    1. Alan says:

      Is it just me or is there something of a double standard in Asia as regards mollifying war pasts? We have Asia, specifically China, on one hand, constantly holding this over Japan. It’s all seems incredibly disingenuous. While it’s important that Japan not be allowed to rewrite its past, the constant watchdogging of it by China of all countries is tiresome.

      And I’d agree, reinterpretation of a legal document is scary. There’s only one way to interpret legal documents: what the authors intended.

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