Does the new government in Tokyo seek a right-wing revival of imperialist Japan? Or is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe simply an opportunist playing on nationalist sentiment for political advantage? For France’s Rue 89, Stephane Mot writes of the danger posed by a Japanese government that is unrepentant for some of the worst crimes ever committed by human beings, and holds America responsible for fostering attitudes that have enabled modern Japan to become that way.
In the latest in a series of similar criticisms from around the world on the Abe government, Rue 89 Stephane Mot writes in small part – and I do mean small, since she goes on for a full 1200 words:
In 2013, nobody would imagine Germany electing a chancellor who supported an openly-revisionist scheme, and who regularly denied Nazi atrocities.
In 2013, nobody would imagine the German people remaining silent if, once elected, this chancellor dared say that those deported during the war had gone to the [concentration] camps of their own free will, or that using the term “invasion” is the wrong way to qualify the aggression against Poland in 1939.
Yet this is what is happening in Japan – a country where the political system is completely dominated by families who played a central role in the years of lead under Imperial Japan. [The French expression Années de plomb or "years of lead," is a Cold War term referring to a period of extremism.]
The latest prime minister to author such appalling provocations is named Shinzo Abe, a fascist who dreams of destroying democracy and seeing a rebirth of imperialist Japan.
The leader of the Japan Reform Party, the young mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, recently provoked a global outcry by saying that, all things considered, “comfort women,” the victims of sex slavery organized by the Imperial army, had been “necessary.”
Such provocations, which immediately trigger indignant reactions from countries victimized by the Imperial regime’s acts of violence – first and foremost Korea and China – have, unfortunately, become the only way to exist politically in Japan.
The day after Hashimoto’s 15 minutes of fame, to remind everyone who’s boss, Shinzo Abe thought it would be a good idea to take things even further.
With a huge grin, he posed as a pilot in a jet fighter – and by choosing aircraft number 731, he was making an unequivocal reference to notorious Unit 731, in which Japan’s version of Josef Mengele, Shiro Ishii, carried out his abominable experiments on human beings.
Just to make sure that the world didn’t think he chose the aircraft by chance, the prime minister, just above the number, added the words “Leader S. Abe” in English.
A proven war criminal, the leader of Unit 731 avoided trial by negotiating his release with the Americans in exchange for the results of his more minor experiments.
Moral bartering like this continues to cost us dearly today. Not only does it represent one of the most shameful moments in the history of American democracy, but the absence of justice and condemnation for a large number of Japanese imperial war crimes has, from the beginning, made possible the corruption of Japanese democracy and the impunity of revisionists like Abe.
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