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Time to stop Abe's evil game

Publication Date : 09-01-2014


In his written statement justifying his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, Abe has said he prayed "for the souls of all those who fought for the country and made ultimate sacrifices" and "for the souls of all the people regardless of nationalities who lost their lives in the war". He refuses to differentiate between the dead. But differentiating between groups, between good and evil, convicting the criminals and punishing the culprits are the basic tenets of international justice - the last resort of humanity against savagery.

Abe does not say that enshrined at Yasukuni are 14 Class-A, and thousands of Class-B and Class-C war criminals who were responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people of Japan and other countries. Among the 14 Class-A war criminals were chief allies of Adolf Hitler, masterminds of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and generals behind the Nanjing Massacre, Yangon slaughter and the razing of Manila. But the shrine's museum lectures visitors that Japan was "forced into war" by the United States, and Japanese soldiers throughout Asia waged an "honourable campaign" to "free Asia from white Europeans".

Abe challenges the verdict of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East as "victors' justice" and questions the definition of "aggression" in international law. He says Class-A convicts "are not war criminals under the laws of Japan". Is he trying to say Japan is above the international community led by the United Nations?

Even his aides have said visiting the shrine has been Abe's long-cherished desire, something instilled in his heart by his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, the "Monster of the Showa era" who mysteriously escaped being convicted as a Class-A war criminal at the Tokyo Trials to become Japan's prime minister from 1957 to 1960 and try to "make Japan a normal state". Abe has proudly declared: "I am the son of Shintaro Abe but have inherited the DNA from Nobusuke Kishi."

His written statement says: "It is not my intention at all to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean people." But what else does he expect the victims of Japanese atrocities to feel?

Abe had all along planned to use the expected strong reactions of people in Japan's neighbouring countries to his shrine visit to fan passions at home and boost his call to revise the country's Constitution and revive militarism.

When disagreements occur, Abe dares to defy, to accuse and to challenge. "So call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist," he said in September, to the applause of his audience in an auditorium. He said China and the Republic of Korea "should be blamed" for the current trouble. Unwilling to back down in the face of truth and reason, he and his fellows teach their children to remember that Japan would have been the Asian saviour if not for the atomic bombs, that Japan has been framed in the Nanjing Massacre, and that Japan faces the "China threat".

Yet he pledges Japan will "never wage a war" again more than once in the statement. When he made the same pledge after becoming prime minister for the second time, many hoped he would be true to his words and mend Japan's ties with its neighbours, even if he didn't follow postwar Germany to ban tributes to war criminals.

Instead, Abe has kept producing surprises. In April 2013, he exclaimed "Long live the emperor", the very words Zero Fighter pilots used during their brutal assaults before and during World War II. In May, he boarded a military plane numbered 731, the code for the Japanese army unit, which used Chinese and Koreans in germ-war experiments and dropped chemical bombs on Chinese homes.

Throughout last year, he pushed for breaking Japan's postwar pacifist tradition and exporting weapons. He fattened the defence budget to build warships and military aircraft, and to increase defence forces' squads to use them to land on other countries' territories, and directed defence programmes at China. He flew across Asia to plant and spread the fear of Chinese people, showcase the "yen-charisma", while hosting Southeast Asian leaders and trying to prove his value for US plans in East Asia.

Abe must have assumed that after all that he has done, time was ripe to let his followers share his pride. While other heads of government or state report their achievements and shortcomings to parliamentarians or the people, Abe addressed ghosts.

Abe's written statement says his visit to the shrine was "to report before the souls of the war dead how my administration has worked for one year". He is anxious to cling to power, to consolidate the support of his followers weakened by his forcible enactment of a counter-freedom law, and to cap his one year in office by crowning himself for making substantial achievements in side-stepping opposition to the revision of the US-orchestrated pacifist Constitution, the last hurdle in his grandfather's as well as his plan to re-militarise Japan.

Abe no longer hesitates to make his aim public. In his New Year message and in defiance of international criticism, Abe stuck to his adamant stance of intensifying a national debate "toward a revision of the Constitution" and turning "the Self-Defence Forces into a full-fledged military".

The mention of constitutional revision used to be taboo in Japanese politics and caused the fall of many senior officials. In just one year, Abe has succeeded to move closer than even the most powerful school of politicians to revising the Constitution. Allowing him and his ilk to pull down that monument of peace and further negate (and even reverse) the postwar trials will harm the cause of peace in the Asia-Pacific.

The author is a writer with China Daily.



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