Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Real Problem With Japan's Diplomacy: Shinzo Abe

Japan is having a tough time with diplomacy lately.  China has demanded Japan clarify statements made about China's rise economically.  Abe suggested in the UK Friday that China had some how cheated in its rise saying, "China found a back door into economic progress."

Koreans are still fuming over LDP member Nobuyuki Suzuki appearing on several Japanese television shows and stating that the sex slaves were Korean women who willingly worked as prostitutes.  Suzuki has also defaced sex slave monuments in Seoul and now it appears he may have defaced a sex slave monument in Palisades Park, New Jersey, USA.  Security camera footage released by Fox News shows a man looking just like Suzuki placing a sign in English stating, "Sex slaves were prostitutes.  Do not believe Korean lies."

Both are fuming over the fact that Abe in February stated, "The Kono Statement needs to be revisited and revised.  Japan is finding little to apologize for in the fact Japan was liberating Asia from European colonialism and bringing modern advancement to other nations."

Now there is more from his visit in Germany on Wednesday that angered not only Japan's Asian neighbors but also Germany and many EU nations and this could be what chilled trade talks with the EU.  Abe simply talked past what needed to be said.

Abe said that Japan will not be able to follow what the Germans did in the aftermath of World War II. He emphasized that the circumstances of the two countries war actions and crimes were vastly different and their post-war dealings should not be compared.
The question from ta Frankfurt journalist was probably in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s remarks earlier this year that Japan should look to what Germany has done to atone for its actions. This includes official public apologies from their leaders, full compensation to neighboring countries as well as publishing textbooks for German schools that discuss in detail what their country and leaders did during World War II. 
Abe stressed that Europe needed that level of atonement from Germany because they were aiming for an integrated region. He believes Japan has gone a different route by signing treaties with former colonies like China and South Korea, and supporting the poorer Asian countries with development aid and technology programs.  "Japan simply did not engage in genocide like Nazi Germany did.  Japan worked during the war to rid Asia of European colonies.  Colonies that produced wealth for Europe by strangling Japan of needed resources.  We brought advance with the Japanese Empire.  Europeans brought slavery, disease, poverty, and degradation."
These comments quickly chilled German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Abe.  UK Prime Minister David Cameron said when he heard the comments, "This man in less than a minute had killed any trade agreement that could have been made."  Not to mention Europe is fuming that Abe instructed the Japanese Center for Whaling to go ahead with its whaling in the North Pacific and also advised them to prepare for next winter's whale hunt in the Arctic.  Japan will not abide by the ICJ ruling against Japan's whaling program.
Closer to Tokyo, its two closest neighbors have not been satisfied with Japan’s actions and this has been a source of tension within the region. South Korea in particular has been very vocal about their demands that Japan compensate individually the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during the war. China meanwhile has also repeatedly asked Abe’s administration to make reparations and to formally apologize for their militaristic actions, despite past governments’ apologies that Abe says his cabinet will look to revise not necessarily uphold.
By R.J. Condon

Mr. Condon is a former UNHCR diplomat from the USA and has worked and lived in Japan for the last 17 years.  He currently is a human rights reporter with the Nishinippon Newspaper in Kagoshima City, Japan.

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