Tag Archives: Abe Shinzo

Fun With Abe-Bush Rhetoric

Shisaku has a snarky roundup of Abe Shinzo’s recent visit to the United States. Here’s the blog’s response to Abe’s hinting that maybe “the past is the past.”

“The 20th century was a century that human rights were violated in many parts of the world. So we have to make the 21st century a century — a wonderful century in which no human rights are violated. And I, myself, and Japan wish to make significant contributions to that end. And so I explained these thoughts to the President.”

First–uh, Abe-san, we are already six years into the 21st century. Believe me, rights have been violated.

Second–are you out of your freaking mind? Just because the date on Gregorian calendars start with a 2, we have to kiss off thinking about what happened in the past? (For all you on Jewish, Chinese or Hejirah calendars, you are not in the 21st century. You are on your own as to whether to violate or not violate human rights)

Measuring Progress From Wen's Japan Visit

What’s come out of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s visit in Tokyo? Well, the Associated Press has a quick list. Here are the parts that might actually be news, instead of reiterations of things like agreeing to work for a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula:

  • Agreements to work for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol and to work on more energy efficient technology got a higher profile in this meeting than they had before, but are not exactly new proposals unless other details emerge.
  • AP reports that the leaders agreed to “[s]trengthen cooperation in defense policy, including reciprocal visits by warships.” This could be real progress toward the reduction of mutual fear and could contribute to regional security, since joint military activities educate sailors about their counterparts, potentially lowering tension in flash-point situations.
  • An agreement to “[s]peed up Japan’s cleanup of chemical weapons left in China from the World War II era” may have been a calculated concession by Abe, given his nationalism and hard stance on history.
  • Agreeing to “face up to history” may sound like something, but it’s been said over and over by Japanese leaders apparently with little relation to actual actions, conciliatory or not.
  • There was more talk about another Abe visit to China this, following up on last year’s after he entered office. This may be the first mention of a possible visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Japan in 2008.
  • And as Japan weighs whether to join the United States in WTO action over Chinese intellectual property practices, the two sides agreed to “[w]ork together to promote intellectual property rights.”

AP has no mention of an expected decision by China to allow Japanese rice imports. But this list may not be comprehensive. I’ll have my eyes out for more over the coming days. I haven’t seen anything on so-called “comfort women” yet either, but it would not be unusual for that issue to go undiscussed in public during the diplomatic visit.

UPDATE: There’s that rice agreement.

A Warning on Yasukuni: Out of Nowhere?

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in an interview with Kyodo gave a standard warning against any visit by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to the Yasukuni Shrine leading up to Wen’s visit to Tokyo next week. This would not be the least bit surprising, except that Abe hasn’t visited the shrine since taking office. Either Wen has information that Abe might consider a visit, or he has other people to satisfy with a tiny bit of tough talk on Japan leading up to his visit.

Beats me.

Abe Apologizes, Xinhua Seems Satisfied, Reuters More Skeptical

Surrounding Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s trip to Japan this weekend, Japanese PM Abe Shinzo “expressed an unfeigned apology to ‘comfort women.'” Or did was the headline that he “trie[d] damage control over WW2 sex slaves”?

If you ask the Chinese official news agency, which often serves as an outlet for the Chinese government’s scoldings of Japanese leaders for “inappropriate” statements on history, Abe really meant it. In a report offering almost no details, Xinhua writes:

TOKYO, March 11 (Xinhua) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday expressed unfeigned apology to “comfort women” who were forced by Japan’s then military government into sex slavery during World War II.

In a TV program of NHK earlier in the day, Abe also reiterated that his government will not change the policy of honoring the Kono statement.

The prime minister’s remarks were a big conversion from what he said on Thursday, when he hinted a reinvestigation of the facts unearthed in 1993 by the previous official probe which gave birth to the Kono statement in the same year. …

In what I’ve come to know as the language of Xinhua stories, my hunch is this reflects a desire among the decision-makers in Chinese media to put the “comfort women” aside. Reuters, under the more skeptical headline quoted above, has some more detail:

On Sunday, Abe repeated that the 1993 apology remained in effect. “We have stated our heartfelt apologies to the ‘comfort women’ at the time who suffered greatly and were injured in their hearts,” Abe said in an interview with NHK television. “I want to say that that sentiment has not changed at all.”

The furore precedes a visit to Tokyo in mid-April by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Abe’s trip to Washington later that month.

In a sign the Bush administration was growing concerned, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer last week advised Tokyo not to renege on the 1993 apology, known as the “Kono Statement” after the chief cabinet secretary in whose name it was issued.

“No friend of Japan would want Japan to back away from the Kono Statement,” Schieffer told Japanese reporters on Friday

The Reuters article quotes a Sofia University political science professor as saying that the U.S. headlines surrounding this story might have led the Abe team to worry about the opinions of the Japanese public. “When Asian governments criticise Japan, no one cares but when it’s reported in the New York Times, they have to react,” said the professor, Nakano Koichi. “They care about the American elite being upset.”

Let’s see what Rep. Honda has to say about this on the Hill Thursday.

Abe's 'Comfort Women' denial: U.S. reaction, a victim speaks, and classifieds

Just joining us? See this entry and this follow-up.

New developments:

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte would not comment on Abe’s specific words, but AP reports:

    “Our view is that what happened during the war was most deplorable,” he said when asked about the sex slave issue. “But … as far as some kind of resolution of this issue, this is something that must be dealt with between Japan and the countries that were affected.”

  • Occidentalism posts two Korean newspaper ads from 1944 seeking 慰安婦, or “comfort women,” who were promised what amounts to a salary and a signing bonus. From the post:

    The newspaper ads suggest that, at least in Korea, the recruitment of “comfort women” was open, legitimate, and socially acceptable. They are also evidence that the women were well paid. For example, a commenter going by the name of “Void” wrote that the salary of a lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army was only 110 yen per month, which means that the women would have been receiving almost triple the salary of a Japanese army lieutenant.

    Even the Kono Statement acknowledged that some women were recruited in the open and some by force. The ads certainly don’t imply “legitimate and socially acceptable.” Just because you can buy something from a newspaper ad doesn’t mean society thinks it’s OK. Further, the newspaper may have been controlled by Japanese forces, and under imperial administration, it would be misleading to say open press reflected the norms of the people being dominated.

  • Meanwhile, a Korean woman who has spoken out at the U.S. Congress about her experience as a sex slave reemphasized to reporters in broken Japanese her experience of abduction and brutal rape during enslavement. Hers is only one example of several that have surfaced in the day’s press reports. Here’s Lee Yong-soo, 78:

    “I cried ‘mother, mother,’ but they never stopped. They used electric shocks to torture me. They kicked me. They cut me,” she said tearfully in broken Japanese.

    “After I returned home after the war, I did not tell anyone about what happened to me,” she said.

    She said she has been staging protests for 16 years outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul to demand an apology.

    “Japan forcibly took me away. I am a living witness. I will tell my story wherever,” she said. “I demand the prime minister of Japan apologise.”

    I don’t have any independent information on this woman’s account, but what she describes sounds a lot like “coercion” to me.