Thursday, January 31, 2013

Japan and the Politics of Guilt

By Gareth Evans
Former Australian Foreign Minister Minister and the principal framer of the United Nations "responsibility to protect" doctrine Gareth Evans issued an important opinion piece for Project Syndicate on the need for Japan to hold to contemporary values on war and peace.

30 January 2013

CANBERRA – Japan is again alienating its neighbors and driving its friends to despair over the issue of accepting responsibility for its wartime aggression and atrocities. With the election of the new government, the voices of denial are heard again at the highest levels, and are resonating with the public, including the young, in ways that would be unthinkable, by contrast, in modern Germany. All of this is fueling nationalist sentiment in China and South Korea, and making even more dangerous the already volatile territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan.

It may be, as some Japanese colleagues tell me, that newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, despite his deeply conservative nationalist background and instincts, is ultimately a realist who will do what it takes – no doubt with the help of pressure from the United States – to defuse these tensions. But there are three specific talismanic issues on which he and his colleagues have taken worrying positions, jangling regional nerves.

The first is the long-running saga of an appropriate apology for Japan’s initiation and conduct of aggressive war the years before and during World War II. For many years, the affected countries sought a comprehensive and unequivocal apology; as Australia’s foreign minister from the late 1980’s, I pushed hard for it in Tokyo, as a form of closure that was morally right and in Japan’s own interests. Eventually, on the 50th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama responded with personal language of both “deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology.”

Most subsequent leaders have repeated these sentiments in various degrees – albeit never to the complete satisfaction of China or South Korea. But, after his landslide election victory last month, Abe told the newspaper Sankei that he would seek to replace the landmark 1995 statement – “issued by a Socialist prime minister” – with a “forward-looking” statement, the content of which he did not describe.

The second issue is that of a specific apology to the “comfort women” – from many countries, including my own, but especially South Korea – who were sexually enslaved in army brothels. Then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono broke the ice in 1993, expressing “sincere apologies and remorse” to all those who had “suffered immeasurable pain.”

But Abe and several of his colleagues have gone on the record over the years – including during Abe’s first term as Prime Minister in 2006-2007 – denying that coercion was involved. In 2007, his national security adviser told a colleague of mine, “All of this is the work of Korean leftists: there’s nothing to it.” Now, in January 2013, Abe’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, has said that experts would be invited to study the basis of Kono’s statement.

Finally, there is the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine to Japanese war dead, which records in its “Book of Souls” 14 A-class war criminals, and contains a museum that glorifies Japan’s conquests as “just wars fought for survival and self-defense” or for the “liberation of Asia.”

Abe has been a regular visitor to Yasukuni. He visited it again last October, after being elected LDP leader, and expressed “bitter grief” during the election campaign that he had not done so during his previous term as Prime Minister. It has been reliably reported that he wants to visit the shrine while in office this time. Fourteen of his 19 cabinet members are reported to belong to a group promoting pilgrimage tours to the site.

Compounding these concerns is evidence that Japanese public opinion is sympathetic toward the positions that Abe has taken or seems to favor. In a Jiji Press opinion poll conducted in January, 56.7% of those surveyed believed that Abe should visit Yasukuni now – up significantly from 2006, when 43% took a similar position.

There are, of course, always two sides to these stories. It is possible to argue – as many Japanese do – that much of the negative reaction by Japan’s neighbors has been driven by cynical nationalist considerations. Campaigners for South Korean comfort women, for example, have often failed to acknowledge the number and intensity of the statements that have been made on this issue over the last two decades, and the amount of compensation on offer. Likewise, China may have set the bar too high concerning the language that it has demanded in any general apology.

But, even before Abe’s latest wavering, there is much more that Japan could have done long ago – and which it should still do – to put its position beyond reasonable criticism. The benchmark 1995 Murayama apology remains a personal one, because the Japanese Diet, then and since, would not agree to anything as strong: a “deep feeling of remorse” was as much as they could muster, and even then 241 members abstained. Moreover, Murayama’s statement referred vaguely to “a certain period in the not-too-distant past,” rather than to specific war years, and others have since resisted phrases – for example, “war of aggression” or “colonial rule” – that Japan’s neighbors have not unreasonably sought.

The more fundamental problem is that Japan seems unable, as a nation, to manage the kind of collective psychological shift that has transformed Germany, with which it is inevitably compared. Apologizing sincerely for the sins and omissions of earlier generations is never easy. Australia had a long national debate before we could say that we were sorry for the horrible past mistreatment of our Aboriginal people, particularly the “stolen generations” of Aboriginal children who were regularly taken from their parents by governments until the 1970’s.

But statesmen, if they are to deserve the name, sometimes must take the politically uncomfortable high ground – and then bring their publics along. Leadership of that quality has been a long time coming in Japan.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The New Grand Strategies

Does Obama have a grand strategy for his second term? If not, he could try one of these, so writes  Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton University in the January18, 2013, Washington Post. She previously served as director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011 and is now only remembered for recently complaining in The Atlantic on how tough it is to have career and children (read, she was too cheap to get a good full-time Filipino nanny). Slaughter describes (logrolls) three new reports of which she admits
The foreign policy community is small and chummy; the authors and reviewers of these reports all know one other, and many have worked together in and out of government. (John Ikenberry, a co-author of the CFR report, was my partner in leading the Princeton Project on National Security from 2004 to 2007. I also serve on the boards of the Atlantic Council and the New America Foundation and reviewed drafts of both strategies.)
In this 50th anniversary of the publication Betty Friedan's seminal The Feminine Mystique , Slaughter does not ever question the parochialism of the reports nor ask why there are only white men were among the four primary authors, of which one never graduated college (something no woman could ever get away with). This is all the more strange as all the authors envision a future more diverse and connected than the current one.

These reports are:

Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World. Atlantic Council, 12/10/2012, 59 pgs with nice photos.

Offered as a companion to the US National Intelligence Council (NIC)’s Global Trends 2030 quadrennial assessment released today, the Council’s Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World surveys the emerging economic and geopolitical landscape; it describes the unprecedented policy challenges that landscape presents; and it outlines a US strategy to avoid a zero-sum, conflictual future and move toward a more cooperative and prosperous 2030.

Six elements of strategy for President Obama emerge from this report:
· Frame second-term policies from a more strategic and long-term perspective.
· Continue to emphasize “nation-building at home” as the first foreign policy priority, without neglecting its global context.
· Recognize that the United States must energetically act to shape dynamic, uncertain global trends.
· Deepen current alliances and interact more effectively with a diverse set of actors. Most importantly, it must reinforce its strategic base: the transatlantic relationship.
· Deepen cooperation with China as the most crucial single factor that will shape the international system in 2030.
· Creatively address the
locus of instability in the 21st century—the greater Middle East from North Africa to Pakistan.

Democratic Internationalism: An American Grand Strategy for a Post-Exceptionalist Era. Council on Foreign Relations, An IIGG Working Paper by Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry11/2012, 30 pgs.
Although the world is now predominantly democratic—largely due to American leadership and influence over the past half-century—cooperation among democracies is weak and the distribution of power is shifting away from the United States and its democratic allies in Europe.To reestablish its historical role as an indispensable global leader, the United States should initiate a new phase of democratic internationalism based on the "pull of success rather than the push of power" that "deepens democracy globally, prevents democratic backsliding, and strengthens and consolidates bonds among democratic states.
A New U.S. Grand StrategyBy Patrick C. Doherty, New America Foundation, 1/9/2013, maybe 5pgs.
The United States must lead the global transition to sustainability. The United States will have to work with its partners to forge, implement, and verify a durable transition framework among the world's major economies. Throughout the transition, America will have to build and strengthen capable partners to provide basic security assurances. Political boundaries will only change through a transparent process of self-determination; global commons will remain open and secure; and sovereignty will be limited only by the responsibility to protect.... 
To succeed, America must revive and update the discipline of grand strategy. It must create a civilian Office of National Strategy, within the executive branch, to organize the effort. The country must, from this moment forward, expose the framework of U.S. national strategy to democratic scrutiny and adapt it as conditions evolve. By articulating and monitoring U.S. strategy, citizens and representatives can challenge its elements and refine the metrics, targets, and actions necessary for implementation -- and be less distracted by the loud voices of narrow interests.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule Jan 7-13, 2013

January 7, 2012 (MON)


09:26 LDP Headquarters
09:36 Give a speech in the new year ceremony
10:05 LDP executives meeting
10:41 Office
11:02 Attends the Inauguration Ceremony for the General Secretariat for Japan's Economic Revival at Cabinet Office
11:09 Office
11:26 Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, Asia Development Bank President
11:41 Mr. Kitamura, Director of Cabinet Intelligence; and Mr. Shimohira, Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center Director
11:46 Mr. Shimohira leaves
11:51 Mr. Kitamura leaves
11:52 Mr. Furuya, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue; Mr. Mitani, Deputy Director, Headquarters for the Abduction Issue

12:04 Liaison Meeting of the Government and Ruling Parties
12:47 Meeting adjourns
01:13 Keidanren Hall, Ootemachi, Tokyo; Petroleum Association of Japan New Year Party
01:38 The Imperial Hotel, Uchisaiwaicho, Tokyo; 2013 New Year Party Jointly Hosted by the Three Economic Associations
02:45 Office
02:47 Mr. Aso, Minister of Finance; Mr. Manago, Administrative Vice Minister of Finance; Mr. Kinoshita, Director General, Budget Bureau, MoF; and Mr. Tanaka, Director General, Tax Bureau, MoF
03:29 Mr. Amari, Minister of Economic Revitalization; Mr. Matsumoto, Administrative Vice Minister of Cabinet Office; and Mr. Matsuyama, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Office
04:09 2013 New Year Party by RENGO, at Hotel Lungwood, Nippori, Tokyo
04:42 New Year Party by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, at Hotel Okura, Toranomon Tokyo,
04:53 Office
05:04 Mr. Fukushiro Nukaga, LDP member and former Minister of Finance; Mr. Kawamura, LDP Election Affairs Council Chief; and Mr. Ichiro Aisawa
05:38 The Imperial Hotel, New Year Party by Jiji Press
06:23 Dinner with Mr. Tsuneo Watanabe, Chair of Yomiuri Shimbun Group; and Mr. Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary, at a Japanese Restaurant Wadakura in Palace Hotel Tokyo, Marunouchi
09:33 Home in Tomigaya

January 8, 2013 (TUE)


09:30 Office
09:32 Mr. Aso, Minister of Finance; and Mr. Manago, Administrative Vice Minister of Finance
09:48 Mr. Furuya, National Public Safety Commission Chair
10:05 The First Cabinet Meeting in 2013
10:24 Headquarters for Japan’s Economic Revival
10:51 Courtesy Call from the President of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), Mr. Tsunekazu Takeda, Olympians and Paralympians; Mr. Shimomura, Minister of Education attends
11:07 Mr. Shimomura and Mr. Toshiaki Endo, LDP Lower House member
11:51 Mr. Takuji Yanagimoto, Former DPJ Lower House member

12:31 Mr. Yanagimoto leaves
02:20 Mr. Kishida, Minister of Foreign Affairs
02:32 Mr. Nemoto, Minister of Reconstruction
03:12 Mr. Shimomura, Minister of Education
03:48 Mr. Onodera, Minister of Defense; and Mr. Kanazawa, Administrative Vice Minister of Defense
04:47 The Prime Minister Receives a Greeting from the Representatives of the Six Regional Organizations
05:31 Receives a Request from the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Mr. Hirokazu Nakaima; Mr. Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary, attends
05:41 All leave
07:00 Dinner with Mr. Takehiko Kiyohara, Chairman of the Sankei Shimbun and Mr. Takamitsu Kumasaka, President of the Sankei Shimbun, at a Japanese Restaurant Unkai in ANA Intercontinental Hotel Tokyo
09:29 Home in Tomigaya

January 9, 2013 (WED)


09:13 Office
09:23 Mr. Sugiyama, Director-General, Asia Oceania Affairs Bureau, MoFA
10:31 Interview with Tokyo Chunichi Shimbun
11:26 Radio program recording for government PR

12:00 Phone conference with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Mr. Saiki, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Mr. Hiramatsu, Policy Bureau Director General, MoFA, attend
12:21 Mr. Saiki
12:28 Mr. Saiki leaves
02:00 Photo shoot with Mr. Junnichi Ishii, LDP Upper House member
02:15 Mayor Masato Matsuura of Houfu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
02:31 Courtesy Call from the Chairman of the South Korea-Japan Parliamentarians' League and Others
03:19 Governor Yuhei Sato of Fukushima Prefecture
03:54 Hotel New Ootani in Kioicho; New Year Party by the Japan Productivity Center
04:55 Phone conference with President Hollande of France
05:10 Ms. Takaichi, LDP Policy Research Council Chief
05:32 Mr. Yoshitake Yokokura, President of Japan Medical Association
05:44 Issue appointment letters to the members of Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, including Professor Motoshige Ito of the University of Tokyo Graduate School
06:01 Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
07:00 Council adjourns
07:02 Mr. Aso, Minister of Finance
07:31 Mr. Kawai, Administrative Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Saiki; Mr. Iahra, Director General, North American Affairs Bureau, MoFA; and Mr. Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary
08:26 Dinner with PM’s Advisors at a Japanese Barbecue Restaurant Ryugetsuen, Yotsuya, Tokyo
10:47 Home in Tomigaya

Revisionism Tokyo-style

Nanking Movie Poster
Japan's leaders still won't acknowledge their country's wartime atrocities.

By Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman (Bill Guttentag is a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He and Dan Sturman directed the documentary film Nanking, which won a Peabody Award in 2009)

First appeared in the January 18, 2013 edition of the Los Angeles Times.

This month 75 years ago, the people of Nanking, China's ancient capital city, were in the midst of one of the worst atrocities in history, the infamous Rape of Nanking. The truth of what actually happened is at the center of a bitter dispute between China and Japan that continues to play out in present-day relations. Many Chinese see Japan's election last month of ultraconservative nationalist Shinzo Abe as prime minister as just the latest in a string of insults. And it was recently reported that Japan is considering rolling back its 1993 apology regarding "comfort women," the thousands of women the Japanese army sexually enslaved during World War II.

In 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army, captured Nanking on Dec. 13. No one knows the exact toll the Japanese soldiers exacted on its citizens, but a postwar Allied investigation put the numbers at more than 200,000 killed and at least 20,000 women and girls raped in the six weeks after the city fell.

In 2006, we traveled to China and to Japan to interview victims and soldiers who took part in the massacre. One former Japanese soldier explained, without a hint of regret: "We all drew straws, and the man who pulled out the one marked first, he brushed off her face tenderly and treated her pretty, yes, and then proceeded to rape her. As their daughter was being raped, the parents would come outside and gesture to us, 'Please spare her!' They'd bang their heads on the ground and plead with us. We'd take one girl and five of us would hold her down."

In China, a 79-year-old man tearfully described how, at 9 years old, he watched a soldier bayonet his mother to death as she breast fed his brother. Another man saw his 13-year-old sister sliced in half by a Japanese soldier after she resisted being raped. Elderly women told harrowing stories of the rapes they endured as young girls.

It was the mass rapes in Nanking and the brutalization of an entire populace that eventually convinced Japanese military leaders that they needed to contain the chaos. Japanese soldiers began rounding up women and forcing them to serve as sex slaves in so-called comfort stations.

This is what most historians believe. But not in Japan, where a large faction of conservatives, led by Abe, denies that the Japanese military forced women into sexual slavery. They maintain that any suggestion to the contrary is simply anti-Japanese propaganda and probably spread by China. At the furthest end of the spectrum, the minimizing turns to flat-out denial; one professor we interviewed at a top Japanese university adamantly insisted there were no killings or rapes in Nanking.

Not surprisingly, all this minimizing and denial enrages the Chinese and others in Asia. But this is a familiar pattern.

Abe has visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo and has said he plans to visit again as prime minister. This is the place where the souls of more than 2 million Japanese war dead are said to be enshrined. Among them are 14 men convicted at the end of World War II of what are known as Class-A war crimes, including Iwane Matsui, the general who led Japanese forces in Nanking. To the Chinese, every visit by an official is like ripping open an unhealed wound. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi went there six times, and his 2005 visit resulted in anti-Japanese riots in China.

It's also informative to walk just a few yards to the Yushukan, the museum affiliated with the Yasukuni shrine. There, as we surveyed the exhibits on the Great East Asian War (World War II to much of the rest of the world), we were surprised to learn that Franklin D. Roosevelt had forced Japan to go to war in a calculated effort to lift the U.S. out of the Depression. (This exhibit was recently revised to omit the Depression reference; now it just says the U.S. forced Japan into bombing Pearl Harbor.)

Then there's the exhibit that argues that Japan's "entry into" other Asian countries was simply an effort to help them throw off the yoke of Western colonization. The museum claims that the Japanese leaders who were tried as war criminals were heroic. A tiny section on Nanking makes no mention of atrocities.

All this revisionism is interspersed with militaristic displays. And crucially, these are not a handful of dusty exhibits in an out-of-the-way place; the Yasukuni complex occupies 25 acres of prime Tokyo real estate.

Fueled by such an aggrieved interpretation of Japan's wartime past, Abe and his party are leading efforts to amend Article 9 of the nation's postwar constitution, which mandates that Japan not maintain a standing army. This comes at a time of escalating tension with China, much of it focused on the Senkaku islands. And Abe's government is considering revising what is known as the Kono Statement, a 1993 apology Japan made for the comfort women, an issue of great meaning to China and other nations that had women forced into sexual slavery.

It seems unlikely that the region will erupt into armed conflict over three tiny islands or repeal of the apology. And it can be argued that the move to amend the constitution shouldn't be a cause for great alarm because Japan already has a well-armed self-defense force.

What is alarming is that the leaders of Japan — and a large and vocal minority of its citizens — have an understanding of their country's wartime history that is grounded primarily in fiction. The Rape of Nanking is not in dispute. There is abundant eyewitness testimony from foreign observers, victims and Chinese and Japanese soldiers; contemporaneous news accounts; horrifying forensic and photographic evidence; and even film footage, surreptitiously shot by an American missionary.

Japanese denial in the face of all this ensures that a historical event will continue to fan the flames of anger and distrust. The sooner the facts are recognized and Japanese leaders renounce paying tribute to mass killers and rapists, the sooner true healing can begin.

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Message

Toshio Motoya
The Frenchman found it. The Englishman skewered it. And the Americans either puzzled over it or analyzed it. But the kicker is that one of America's most prominent Japan Alliance Managers repeated it, some of it.

No matter what you say, this interview of Japan's new Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura by real estate mogul and rightwing kingmaker Toshio Motoya is frank. Shimomura is a close ally of Abe and served as his deputy chief Cabinet secretary in 2006, during the prime minister's first term in office.

Motoya is best known for his "True Interpretations of Modern History" essay contest. The 2008 awardee was Japan Air Self Defense Force General Toshio Tamogami who wrote that the US, not Japan was the aggressor country in WWII. The General was promptly fired.

Shimomura is one of the signatories of the November 4, 2012 advertisement in the New Jersey Star Ledger disputing the "facts" that the Comfort Women were sex slaves. In addition to Prime Minister Abe, Shimomura is among the eight members of the Abe Cabinet plus the head of the LDP Policy Research Council who signed the ad.

Thus, Shimomura's views on the sources of Japan's national malaise and history are no surprise. He believes that the Japanese people must become "free of the postwar systems, consciousness, and Tokyo Trials historical viewpoint in order to make over Japan into a new country."

What is interesting, however, is his opinion as to why the first Abe Administration failed. It is a message that seems to be repeated so often that it looks like coordinated spin. Some are even certain that the Abe people have a coordinated public relations strategy.

Shimomura simply said Abe was done in by his liberal critics:
 There were two reasons for Prime Minister Abe’s resignation halfway through his term. The first was criticism from the mass media, which is steeped in the ideologies of the postwar regime. The media outlets - centered on the Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun newspapers - continue to affirm the current situation, based on socialist ways of thinking.
What is interesting is how often this explanation is heard in Washington.

Mike Green, Toyota Japan Chair at CSIS and formerly NSC Asia official, repeated this view at a Heritage Foundation event on December 10, 2012 program, Assessing the South Korean and Japanese Elections. He said (at around 1:20:40 on the video):
He [Abe] was extremely well regarded by not only by us but by the Australians, the Europeans. The whole problem he got into as Prime Minister over comfort women came around 2007 or 2008. And frankly, The New York Times, and The Left, just went at him, just went at him because inside Japan the Asahi Shimbun on the Left just hated him, not the political reporters but the editorial board in Asahi Shimbun hated him, hated him, and so I think there was a bit of importation of Asahi Shimbun and a little bit of Mainichi Shimbun views of Abe into the New York Times The LA Times that got big play: dangerous rightist, pal of Bush, and all that. Damaged his image with elites in the United State who didn’t see him the way we did in government where he was extremely strategic and effective…decisive. 
This was paraphrased, but reported as a quote, in Sankei Shimbun's "America Notes: Mistaken criticism of [Japan] tilting right, by Yoshihisa Komori, special editorial member in Washington" as:
I am afraid that, with new policymakers coming into the Obama administration in the second term, they will be influenced by views held by some in South Korea and send a warning to the Abe administration of shifting to the right. That would be a big mistake. It would surely destroy Japan's trust in the U.S." 
In the U.S., the leftist elite and the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have used the so-called comfort-women issue to attack the Abe administration as 'dangerously right-wing'. They did so without acknowledging Mr. Abe's strategic contribution at the gov-gov level. Such 'Abe bashing' was done by way of importing some of the techniques of the Asahi Shimbun, which anyway hates Abe. I would like them to refrain from such in the future.
There you have it, all have stayed on message that Abe's critics where too critical. He was just another victim of too much media scrutiny.

Later: See, "Japan not becoming right-wing, returning from the left: Left says Abe is wrong for being Right, but is their Right really Left?" Japan Business Press, February 11, 2013 by Yoshihisa Komori. This is his translation of his Sankei Shimbun article.

LDP Official wants review of war apologies

Shinzo Abe and Sanae Takaichi
The 1995 Murayama Statement, is Japan only official apology for Japan's war in Asia. It is the only Cabinet-approved apology by Japan. There have been several other official apologies since then, but they are always merely a rewording of this basic prose from the Statement:
During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology.
For example, the apology to the American POWs of Japan reads,
As former Prime Ministers of Japan have repeatedly stated, the Japanese people should bear in mind that we must look into the past and to learn from the lessons of history. We extend a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people, including prisoners of wars, those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan Peninsula, Corregidor Island, in the Philippines, and other places.
Thus, to refute or to undo the Murayama apology, as the Head of the LDP Policy Research Council Ms Sanae Takaichi states below, would seriously undermine all of Japan's apologies, official and otherwise. The work to rebuild the trust in Japan's past adversaries, who are now allies will be destroyed.

Ms. Takaichi was one of the 53 signers of The Facts advertisement in the November 4, 2012 edition of the New Jersey Star Ledger. This ad disputes the history of the Comfort Women as sex slaves. Nine members of Shinzo Abe's cabinet, including Prime Minister Abe, also signed the ad.

Official Urges Abe to Review War Apologies
January 10, 2013, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal


TOKYO—Japan should reconsider past apologies made for its wartime actions and expand its regional presence, the new ruling party's policy chief said, pressing new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to live up to his nationalist campaign rhetoric.

Sanae Takaichi, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party's powerful policy-research council, said Wednesday that Mr. Abe should issue a statement that backtracks on some of Japan's previous apologies for wartime actions and "protects the honor and pride" of the nation.

"I look forward, more than anything, to the creation of a new 'Abe statement' that would replace the Murayama statement," Ms. Takaichi said in an interview. She was referring to a 1995 statement by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II that apologized for the damage and suffering Japan inflicted through its colonial rule.

Such steps would likely outrage some Asian neighbors, especially China and South Korea, where wartime memories run deep and territorial disputes with Japan have re-emerged as a source of animosity.

Mr. Abe led his party to a sweeping victory in the Dec. 16 general election with a nationalist agenda calling for the revision of Japan's pacifist constitution and an increase in military spending. His cabinet includes many lawmakers with similar ideals—sparking concerns among moderates who see the administration as sliding to the right.

Ms. Takaichi, known for her outspoken views on Japan's wartime history, said Japan shouldn't have to apologize for matters outside those already covered by international treaties. She said Mr. Abe should issue a new statement "as soon as possible," adding that the LDP would fully support such a plan.

While Mr. Abe supported the 1995 Murayama statement when he was prime minister in 2006, he was more critical ahead of his recent election and said he wants to issue his own "forward-looking" statement.

Before taking office He also said Japan should consider revising a 1993 statement made by then-Chief cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that the Japanese government and military were responsible for forcing "comfort women" to serve in front-line military brothels.

Ms. Takaichi also said that China's growing military might was a "threat" to the region, and that Japan could benefit by strengthening ties with Southeast Asian nations, "from both security and economic-growth perspectives."

Last week, Finance Minister Taro Aso visited Myanmar for economic talks, while foreign minister Fumio Kishida left Wednesday for the Philippines, Brunei, Singapore and Australia. Mr. Abe is said to be planning a tour of Southeast Asia, possibly as early as next week.

Ms. Takaichi also said Japan's leaders should pay annual visits to the Yasukuni shrine, which honors the country's war dead, including World War II leaders convicted as war criminals. Such visits in the past brought strong protests from China and South Korea.

While Mr. Abe hasn't clarified whether he would visit the shrine during his current tenure—he didn't visit it when he was last prime minister—Ms. Takaichi said she strongly advised he do so this time.

"I would be glad if all cabinet members would visit the shrine," she said.

Ms. Takaichi, who served as minister of state for Okinawa and the northern territories under Mr. Abe before, was the only cabinet minister who visited the shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

Mongolia in 2012: A Steady Path Toward Democracy and Development

This essay by Mendee Jargalsaikhany, a political science PhD student at the University of British Columbia, first appeared in the Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 10 Issue: 9, January 17, 2013

Mongolia has remained on the radar in 2012 for international audiences, especially foreign investors who see the country either as either a land of opportunity or uncertainty. Events ranging from the parliamentary elections, to judicial procedures concerning the former president, and to restrictions on exchanging mining licenses between foreign companies have triggered unsubstantiated criticisms from various experts. However, the year marks neither the collapse of democracy nor the triumph of resource nationalism.

Mongolians still stand firm on commitments to uphold democratic values and economic development as well as integration with the global market. The absence of armed conflicts or violence in Mongolia, its close proximity to resource hungry Northeast Asian markets, along with the country’s political and economic focus around the mining sector, attracts investors from Mongolia’s two neighbors and beyond. Meanwhile, the sustained pressures from the public, business community as well as foreign investors leave Mongolian politicians with only one option—to institutionalize greater transparency, accountability and sustainability in the mining sector.

Despite last year’s uncertainties of coalition government formation and the upcoming presidential election in July 2013, Mongolian politics are now entering a relatively peaceful period until 2016. The 2012 parliamentary and local elections ended in favor of the Mongolian Democratic Party (MDP), which now leads the coalition government and has increased its clout in local politics. Following its electoral losses, the former ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), has undergone numerous changes (e.g., leadership, organization) and has begun its preparation for this year’s presidential contest and the next parliamentary and local elections in 2016.

A few political developments need to be highlighted. For one, electoral institutions have been consolidated in Mongolia, and the political system is clearly dominated by two leading parties (i.e., MDP and MPP), while other smaller parties play marginal roles. Furthermore, victories in the presidential elections of 2009, as well as last year’s parliamentary and local elections, demonstrate that the MDP reached the organizational capacity to challenge the former ruling party, MPP. Second, reforms of the judicial institutions as well as law enforcement organizations (i.e., police, marshal service) are increasing their levels of professionalism as well as autonomy from politics. However, they still remain vulnerable to being swept up in the competition between the two major political parties. Third, Mongolia has shown significant improvements in electoral procedures (i.e., use of computation, biometric IDs, and diaspora voting) and gender representation (i.e., increased female politicians) in government.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Asia Policy Makers In/Out for 2013

OUT 2012                                 IN 2013

Exposed Corrupt Officials 
More Corrupt Officials
Youth League Faction
"Leftover Women"
Leftover Men
Foreign Journalists
Andrea Yu
The World-Wide Web
"Internet with Chinese Characteristics"
"Peaceful Rise"
"Revival of the Great Chinese Civilization"
"Harmonious Society"                      
Harmonious Society?
Ai Weiwei - Never Sorry                  
Ai Weiwei - I'm sorry!
The Nine Dashed Line
The contiguous line
Tibetan self-immolations
Tibetan immolations
Xi Who?
Job-killing China
War-mongering China
Hello Kitty
Tsumori Chisato’s CATS
Olympic Gold
Olympus Sold
Korean strongmen
Korean strongwomen
Stomach trouble
Holocaust Deniers
Imperial Japan’s Deniers
Comfort Women
East Sea
West Philippine Sea
Naha Airport
Malaysian lobbying
Indonesian lobbying
Tsunami ravaged Japanese fishing villages
Hurricane ravaged New Jersey fishing villages
Somali pirates
Chinese Navy
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Wife of Kim Jung-un
Gangnam Style
One pound fish
Cam Ranh Bay
Subic Bay
Washington Japan Specialists With 
Washington Japan Specialists withOUT personality
Choking Beijing pollution
“Crazy Bad” Beijing pollution
Unsigned Hague Treaty
Abe Lincoln
Dr. Evil
Unsigned Hague Treaty
Abe Shinzo
Toshio Motoya
Rare Earth
Shale oil
Nuclear bomb

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Japan's deniers use anti-Semitism

In the October 2012 issue of the popular Japanese monthly magazine, Seiron, is an unattributed commentary on the Bataan Death March. The author dismisses the brutality of the March by asserting that the Americans were racist cowards and prevaricators who willfully murdered civilians. Passages from Dr. Lester Tenney's book, My Hitch in Hell, on the battle of Bataan and the Death March are used as "proof."

The Seiron writer emphasizes his point by identifying Dr. Tenney as Jewish, thus drawing on common prejudices against the Jewish people as villainous, lazy liars. Dr. Tenney, a former tank commander from Company "B" of the Maywood 192nd Tank Battalion and the last Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, persuaded the government of Japan in 2009 to issue a formal apology for Imperial Japan's the abuse and misuse American POWs.

Anti-Semitism is used to separate veterans like Dr. Tenney from other “Americans” and to imply that his quest for justice is corrupted and not mainstream. The point is to isolate those who want sincere apologies for the war by suggesting that they as not true Americans. To do this, the Seiron article selectively quotes Dr. Tenney and employs false facts. This article is part of the current greater effort, under the new Japanese government, to deny Japan’s war history and to undo Japan’s few war apologies of which one was to the American POWs of Japan that was based on the Murayama apology of 1995.

Below is a translation of the Seiron article and HEREyou can see APP's 
correction of the facts with a full analysis of the piece and links to additional information.

Unnamed author, Seiron, October 2012, pp. 35-37
Provisional Translation by Asia Policy Point

The bombardment on the Philippine’s Clark Field came almost at the same time as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Two weeks later, on December 22, 1941, Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma and his 40,000 troops hit the shores of the Lingayen Gulf. Subsequently, they defeated the American and Filipino forces, which were three times stronger than those of the Japanese.

MacArthur was terrified and reported to Washington the abandonment of Manila and started withdrawing to the Bataan Peninsula. Cowards always run fast when they escape. Lester Tenney, a Tank Corps member who had just arrived at Luzon, was a coward equal to MacArthur.

His Tank Corps rushed to the Bataan Peninsula, avoiding any encounter with the Japanese. According to his book, the Bataan Death March, he wrote that he killed all residents and “indiscriminately shot at shops and huts because we could not distinguish Filipinos from the Japanese” when they passed by a small village.

He also wrote “we killed those who did not have identification” and “we fired the tank cannons to blow up four houses with their families because they tried to leak the American presence to the Japanese.” Though he is, in fact, a Jew, it seems he thinks that the whites have a special privilege to kill any colored people.

Six months later, he surrendered to the Japanese. The Japanese forced him to walk to a camp, which was only 120 kilometers away. Half of the march was actually “by freight train” (Ibid.). He exaggerated as if “it was a march from hell.” The foolish Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada invited him to Japan and apologized.

It would have been better to send him [Tenney] to The Philippines and try him for killing many innocent people. 

Constitutional amendment only damages Japan's international stature

Japanese planes ready to take off to attack Pearl Harbor
APP member Paul Giarra was  interviewed for this POINT OF VIEW article in the January 17, 2013 of the Asahi Shimbun Asia & Japan Watch. Mr. Giarra heads the defense consultancy Global Strategies and Transformation, is former Senior Country Director for Japan in the U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

It seems to me that, with his conservative national security credentials, Shinzo Abe’s election was a mixed blessing because the prime minister is confronted with a national security challenge made very difficult by China.

This election, and more broadly the challenge from China, come at a time when the domestic politics of Japan’s national security have not been resolved-- whether the Constitution should be revised; whether the right to collective self-defense should be authorized; and to what extent there should be real, meaningful military integration with the United States, which has never been achieved before.

Abe is seen in some quarters as radically conservative, and this is a disadvantage for him in relations with China and South Korea. Based on history, Beijing uses Japan’s unresolved security dilemma as a whip or a club to strike Japan as a political weapon. In contrast, South Korea uses history as a “hair shirt,” a constant and unpleasant reminder of Japan’s past aggression. So, the prime minister has a very difficult problem on his hands: how to deal with the history question--and not make it worse--while responding to China’s military build up and aggressive behavior.

At a time when raising the history issue will only make matters worse, the prime minister might consider taking the advice of President Teddy Roosevelt: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”

Let me be clear--I support additional military capabilities for Japan. However, in the meantime, the prime minister can speak softly on the history issue, but “carry a big stick” by making many necessary military changes that cost relatively little and require few additional ships or airplanes.

For instance, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are terribly important, both internally to the Self-Defense Forces and externally, between the United States and Japan. These are capabilities that have some cost but are relatively inexpensive, and provide great strategic and operational advantage.

Between military services, and between allies, these are areas of great intimacy, typically resisted because of professional and cultural misgivings. Also, because they represent “thinking” more than “doing,” C4ISR platforms and organizational structures are typically underfunded despite being in constant high demand by military commanders. (C4ISR refers to command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.)

In the alliance, successful integration would bring tremendous strategic and operational benefits. There is no question that we have to get to this point of intimacy, where the United States and Japan can work much more closely together and confidently share the most precious secrets.

I don’t think it is necessary to amend the Japanese Constitution. In terms of security, Japan is doing so much more than the Constitution originally envisioned anyway.

In the last 20 years, Japan has changed many laws and administrative policies regarding national security. This is the reality--the untold story of the transformation of Japanese defense.

In fact, the implications of changing the Constitution are so negative that Japan should do everything possible without changing the Constitution. Revising the Constitution will impose great cost on Japan’s international stature. This is the meaning of “speaking softly.”

The Constitution notwithstanding, I urge the prime minister to consider the strong merits of collective self-defense as necessary for effective alliance solidarity and operational integrity. The time may have come to consider revising Articles 5 and 6 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.


As for national security politics in Japan, Abe is seen in some quarters as having very radical notions of the history of the 1930s and 1940s. Politically, this only helps with those Japanese who are constituents of the prime minister and who have misinterpreted the history of that period. Everywhere else, throughout Asia and including in the United States, this hurts the prime minister and all of Japan. Insisting on revisionist history is to “speak loudly” and is at best counterproductive.

Of course, these constituents expect the prime minister to support their view, so Abe is in a difficult position. Nevertheless, it is quite obvious that the last thing that any of us should want to do now is to give China a propaganda victory. Of course, China has and will continue to use this reinterpretation of history against Japan, and by proxy, against the United States.

Apart from being blamed by association by China, it is quite clear that the reinterpretation of history also causes a real problem in the United States. Speaking only for myself, and very frankly, it makes me very upset when Japanese historians, pressmen or politicians want to challenge my view of what happened before and during World War II.

My view of prewar history is that Japanese behavior and militarism was completely unacceptable, and that the United States took actions to change Japanese behavior. Washington was faced with the fact that not only was Japan’s behavior in China and Korea outrageous, but that Japanese militarists were intent upon disrupting the strategic balance of power. Rather than bending, Japan became stiffer and stiffer, and finally lashed out in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

December 7, 1941, was as thoughtless as the behavior that preceded it, because the attack on Pearl Harbor--just as the preceding behavior itself--was a disaster for Japan, and there is no way to change that reality.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What values do the US share with Japan

Sakurai & Abe at
Globis Summit 2011

Ms.Yoshiko Sakurai, President of the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, is a prominent conservative nationalist journalist and longtime adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During Abe's first term as prime minister, she was a frequent visitor to his office. In 2011, they shared the stage to talk about how to make the Japanese proud again (see photo).

In 2007 and 2012, Sakurai organized the sponsorship of ads in the Washington Post and the New Jersey Star Ledger respectively condemning the Comfort Women and explaining that they were willing prostitutes. Abe was a signatory to the second ad, which was published just days after Hurricane Sandy struck the shores of New Jersey. 

She was among the first (12/21/12) to interview Abe after he became prime minister. The interview appeared in the Weekly Shincho on December 26.

On her blog Speaking Out (#174) posted January 10, 2013 she lashes out at those Americans who criticize Prime Minister Abe's views on history. She compares Japan's reaction to the Comfort Women to how Americans have dealt with slavery. 

Abe Should Send Correct Messages on Historical Issues

       Challenges for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe include historical perceptions, national security and economic stagnation that are all not easy to deal with. Particularly, he will have to address historical perception problems not only in China and South Korea but also in the United States, the ally of Japan.

NY Times exposed lack of knowledge
       The New York Times in its editorial on January 3 harshly criticized Prime Minister Abe’s remarks in an interview with The Sankei Shimbun newspaper as reported by Reuters. “Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, seems inclined to start his tenure with a serious mistake…,” the newspaper said of Abe’s reported remark that he wants to replace then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s 1995 statement of apology for Japan’s past “aggression” with a “forward looking statement” suitable for the 21st century.
       Japan has been erroneously accused of coercing Korean and other Asian women into becoming comfort women and issued the so-called Kono statement admitting to its coercive recruitment of those women. Many investigations have found that none was coerced into serving as comfort women for Japan’s wartime military. But the New York Times editorial effectively criticized Japan for having coerced Korean and other women into becoming “sex slaves.”
       The editorial brushed off these investigations and put the problem back to square one, using such words as “sex slaves,” “a right-wing nationalist,” “revisionism” and “shameful impulses.” It remarkably indicated emotional reactions to historical problems and the lack of knowledge.
       Japan’s Foreign Ministry for its part has lost its willingness to refute such claims, explaining that it has no way to refute the Christianity-based claim that the presence of comfort women was wrong. The ministry is afraid that refuting basic American values could work to stall the entire Japan-U.S. relationship including diplomatic and security ties.
       Such bureaucratic thinking may force Japan to accept groundless criticisms permanently. At this juncture, however, Japan should protect its honor while reaffirming that Japan and the U.S. share past failures and a common ambition to achieve a better future.
       Facilities similar to wartime comfort stations existed even after the war. As soon as U.S. forces occupied Japan in 1945, they first urged Japan to provide women. Although comfort women are described as “sex slaves,” the slavery system was a U.S. system. Americans coercively took a large number of Africans to the United States and sold them as goods rather than as humans.

[NB: The Recreation and Amusement Association (特殊慰安施設協会 tokushu-ian-shisetsu-kyōkai?) (RAA), or more literally Special Comfort Facility Association, was the official euphemism for the prostitution centers arranged for occupying U.S. Armed Forces by the Japanese government after World War II. It was short-lived, lasting just over four months, and was replaced by the akasen (赤線, red line) system. - APP Editor]

Focus on shared values
      But I have to emphasize that the United States has historically tried to eliminate all discriminations [sic]. I would like to pay my deep respect to the United States that has made greater efforts than any other country to abolish gender and racial discriminations [sic] . I am confident that Americans who have built such respectable country are in the best position to understand Japanese people’s past and present efforts to protect the values that Americans want to protect.
      For example, Japan wished to contribute to building a new international order after World War I and then proposed the principle of racial equality for the first time in the world. But then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who chaired the Paris Peace Conference, failed to take up the proposal by Japan that was well aware of sufferings from racial discriminations [sic] .
      At present, Japanese have had done serious soul searching on prostitution even though it was common practice before the end of World War II. As well as the United States, Japan has been striving to contribute to universal values.
      Japan and the United States share various values. Beyond bureaucratic thinking, the prime minister is responsible for making a decision to inform the United States of the fact and launch a national information project for mutual learning between Japan and the United States.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Australian APP member interviewed on Japan's Foreign Minister's visit

Jenny Corbett, Executive Director of the Australia-Japan Research Centre and Professor of Economics, at the Australian National University and APP member discussed on January 14 with Liam Cochrane of ABC Australian Radio Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's visit to Australia.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has discussed the economy, regional disputes and North Korea with his Australian counterpart Bob Carr.

The visit was Mr Kishida's first overseas trip since Japan's new government took office in December. His regional tour also took in the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr described the day's talks as productive, saying the two countries discussed Australia's role on the United Nations Security Council, as well as North Korea's missile launch.
CORBETT: The purpose of this visit is for the new Foreign Minister to make connections throughout the region, so Australia is coming at the end of a tour through the region, where he's been to four other countries. So I think the key thing on his mind is probably the security question around maritime security and territorial issues. So I think those were the big items.

There are a number of other specific Australia-Japan issues that were probably discussed and certainly are of interest to Australia.

COCHRANE: One of those I imagine would have been trade. Details are still a little unclear as to exactly what was discussed in the meeting between Mr. Carr and Fumio Kishida. But what sort of things would both sides have been wanting to try and get out of these talks on the trade issue?

CORBETT: Well as you know, we are still negotiating an Economic Partnership Agreement between Australia and Japan, sometimes called a Free Trade Agreement and in fact the agreement to start the negotiations was undertaken by Prime Minister Abe, when he was Prime Minister the first time, so he and John Howard agreed that. So these have been running now, the negotiations, for a long time and we're told that they are not making a lot of progress. They certainly seem to have stalled.

With the new Abe Government, it's not clear whether they're going to be enthusiastically pursuing this agreement. They have a track record of being fairly protectionist and of saying that they're not interested in joining TPP and Prime Minister Abe has been regarded as somebody who supports the agriculture lobby and the big issue between Australia and Japan in these negotiations is how much will Japan open the agriculture market and that's what's holding things up.

But actually, there are a number of other things likely to be in the agreement which are much more economically significant and which are the reasons why it would be useful to get on with the negotiation and they're around service sectors.

COCHRANE: Now you mentioned that security issues, regional security, in particular, maritime security, would have been something very much on the Foreign Minister's mind as he was travelling around the region, stopping in the Philippines and Brunei, both countries with territorial disputes pending against China in the South China Sea and Japan, of course, with its own territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea. What sort of role might Australia play in this?

CORBETT: Well, I think that is a very good question. There are different views in Australia about that. The official position is that we are simply urging calm and we're not taking any kind of formal position on either side about who's right or any of that. But clearly it's in Australia's interests to see secure and peaceful relations around the region and these territorial disputes have the potential to flare up into unmanageable disagreements quite quickly. So I think the Australian position in my view should be to be trying to act as broker where possible, to try and perhaps improve the communication between China and Japan.

We have interests in our relationship with both sides and so it's definitely not in our interest to support one side over the other. But there are potential ways to get international agreement about the sharing of the resources that are in dispute in the marine regions around these islands, and if Australia could help to get a negotiated agreement about how resources are to be shared would take some of the tension out of this, that would be very useful. But that can only happen behind closed doors.

I don't think Australia can achieve any of that by making public statements and so if there was conversation of that kind, we wouldn't expect to hear about it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule Dec 31, 2012-Jan 6, 2013

December 31, 2012 (MON)


Home in Tomigaya, Tokyo

12:44 Hotel Grand Hyatt Tokyo, exercise in Nagomi Spa and Fitness
04:44 Home i

January 1, 2013 (TUE)


10:31 Imperial Palace, attend new year’s ceremony with Mrs. Akie Abe
11:32 Home in Tomigaya

12:43 Mr. Fukushiro Nukaga, LDP member, former Finance Minister
01:08 Mr. Nukaga leaves
02:42 Mr. Shiozaki, LDP Policy Research council chief
03:07 Mr. Aso, Deputy PM
04:33 Mr. Aso leaves

January 2, 2013 (WED)


10:18 Hotel Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Roppongi

02:50 Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills; Watch “Les Miserables” with his mom and wife

January 3, 2013 (THU)


08:02 Play golf; Morinaga Takataki Country Club, Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture

04:00 Grand Hyatt Tokyo

January 4, 2013 (FRI)


09:03 JR Tokyo Station
09:09 Mr. Shimomura, Minister of Education; Mr. Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary; and Mr. Amari, Minister of Economic Revitalization
09:11 Leave the station on Nozomi bullet train #12
09:12 Mr. Shimomura
10:30 Mr. Yamamoto, Minister of Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs
10:51 Arrive at JR Nagoya station
10:58 Kintetsu Nagoya Station; meeting with Governor Hideaki Oomura of Aichi Prefecture
11:10 Leave the station on Kintetsu express train; Mr. Kato, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, accompanies.

12:33 Arrive at Kintetsu Uji Yamada Station; greeted by Governor Eikei Suzuki of Mie Prefecture
12:42 Ise Jingu Shrine; offer prayer with Mr. Tanigaki, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Tamura, Ministry of Health, Mr. Moteki, Ministry of Economy
01:12 Inner court
02:19 Flower presentation by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from Ise, Mie Prefecture
02:45 Press Conference
03:41 Kintetsu Ujiyamada Station
03:53 Leave the station
04:00 Mr. Kato, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
05:17 Kintetsu Nagoya Station
05:21 JR Nagoya Station
05:42 Leave Nagoya on Nozomi Bullet Traion No. 378
06:08 Mr. Furuya, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue
06:50 Mr. Inada, Minister in charge of Administrative Reform
07:20 Arrive at JR Tokyo Station
07:42 Home in Tomigaya

January 5, 2013 (SAT)
11:29 Cemetery in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture; visit Mr. Hisayuki Miyake’s grave

12:38 The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
12:40 Lunch with Special Advisors in a restaurant Origami
12:55 Mr. Ishihara, Minister of Environment
01:22 Office
01:32 Mr. Yonemura, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management; Mr. Kitamura, Director of Cabinet Intelligence; Mr. Kitamura, Coast Guard Commandant; Mr. Nishimura, Security Bureau Director-General, National Police Agency; and Mr. Hiramatsu, Policy Bureau Director-General, MoFA
03:00 Mr. Etsuro Honda, Spcial Advisor to Cabinet
03:25 Mr. Kawai, Administrative Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
04:00 Hotel Grand Hyatt Tokyo, exercise in Spa and Fitness in the hotel
06:04 Dinner with Mr. Masahiko Tsugawa, an actor, and others at Godaime Nodaiwa, an eel restaurant in Higashi Azabu, Tokyo
08:43 Home in Tomigaya, Tokyo

January 6, 2013 (SUN)


Home in Tomigaya, Tokyo

01:30 Mr. Kiyoshi Kimura, President of Kiyomura, which operate a sushi chain Sushi Zanmai
01:55 Haircut at Hair Guest in Shibuya, Tokyo
03:39 Home
03:56 Mr. Aso, Deputy PM
05:04 Mr. Aso leaves

Friday, January 11, 2013

An encounter with a denier

Nautilus Institute, January 10, 2012
Let me tell you a story. It’s a bit long, and about a friend of mine and her family, but it might explain why I believe that the idea of Japan as the northern hinge of the United States’s pivot strategy against China is simply not viable in political terms, and may well prove dangerous.

In early March 2007 I found myself on the stage of CLSA’s annual Japan Forum in Tokyo, together with Koike Yuriko, at the time Prime Minister Abe’s National Security Advisor, and soon after, Minister of Defence. Koike, an Arabic speaking former journalist, gave a short anodyne talk to the 800 or so assembled suits about plans for a national security council. I followed on with some hopefully less anodyne comments, but then shifted from my prepared remarks to raise the issue of the Prime Minister’s comments in that morning’s newspaper in response to the testimony to a US Congressional sub-committee by three women, two Korean and one Australian, about their experiences as sexual slaves for the Japanese Army in WW2. Abe had said that while the events were regrettable, “in the legal definition”, this was not a matter of coercion.[1]

Addressing Ms Koike, and trying to keep a level tone, I said that as someone who had lived in Japan for a long time, with a deep affection for the country, I thought these remarks were disastrous for Japan in policy terms. Soft power – the capacity to generate a desire for imitation or admiration – is generally regarded as an important part of a country’s strategic posture, but for Japan this issue, and the inability of the country’s leaders to rise above it, was the repellent – and repelling – inverse of soft power. Moreover, I said, I had a small personal connection to the issue which would not permit me to let the matter pass without comment.

One of the three women who testified so courageously in Washington, was a woman named Jan Ruff O’Herne, who happened to be the mother of a close friend, the Australian painter Carol Ruff. Born and raised to Dutch parents in the Dutch East Indies, Jan had been a 17 year old girl planning a life as a nun when she and her mother were interned by the Imperial Army in 1942. Jan and other young girls were sent to the city of Semarang, to a brothel for army officers, where she was raped, repeatedly, daily, for many months. Eventually returned to the internment camp, Jan told only her mother, who just held her, and her priest, who told her any hopes she had of becoming a nun were over. At war’s end, the camp was liberated, and she fell in love with a young British soldier, Tom O’Herne, who she married, telling him, and no-one else for the next fifty years, what had happened to her. Despite all, it was a happy marriage, and Jan and Tom raised two daughters, Eileen and Carol, in Australia.[2]

In 1989, the first few extraordinary Korean women told the story of their abductions and systematic rape by the Imperial Army to their fellow Koreans, and then the wider world, bringing with them the strange and shocking phrase “comfort women”. Jan saw these women on television, and felt that she too had to break the silence of half a century, and sat down to write her story for her daughters in an old school notebook, which later became her remarkable book Fifty Years of Silence[3]. The Korean women had given her the courage to face the feelings of shame:

The truth is winning. Because, all of a sudden, after 50 years we had the courage to shed the shame.It was a risk I had to take, but I was afraid. Then to have the enormous relief when I had spoken out to be received back among my friends and my parish, and be welcomed and embraced and flowers put on my seat in the church, when I first went to Mass. It was a wonderful reception I had, you know? Mmm. It was good. [4]

For her daughters, suddenly many things made sense.

“My mother’s a very beautiful woman”, said Carol. “She’s really attractive and, as a young woman, she was stunning. And, in a sense, sometimes I think that her beauty has also been her disguise. We knew all along that she’d been in prison camp. I’ve never seen my mother as someone with a terrible past that she was hiding from me. Not a hint.”[5].

Carol and her then husband, the film maker Ned Lander, went on with Jan to make an award-winning film, also called Fifty Years of Silence[6], about Jan’s story, and most importantly, about her first, anxious visit to Japan after an invitation to speak about what had happened to her, and to so many other girls and young women.

Carol and I were friends from Alice Springs, that hard and special part of Australia where art and politics meet, where Carol painted the spirited landscape.[7] When the film came out, I was teaching politics in a Japanese university, and organising a fieldwork program for third year students to come to Australia for half a year. Carol was by now living in Sydney, and I asked her if she would consider showing the film to my students, and then talking with them. She had never shown it to a Japanese audience, and was not sure – about her own response or that of the students. 

Beforehand I prepared the students, talking about the historical background, working through the script of the film. On that first occasion, as in many later years, crowded into in Carol’s little Sydney house, the mainly female students watched intently, some in increasing dismay, and some, at least initially, in disbelief or denial, but all shattered by the end, wondering how they could possibly speak to the daughter of this extraordinary woman. And then the conversation, the many-stranded, halting, tearful, wondering conversations that were founded on the rock of authentic witness, began. In later years, Carol and I would start the film off, and then move to coffee in her tiny exquisite garden, catching up on the doings of our families, the quiet gossip about our friends, until it was time to go back in, to wait for the end of the film, and readying ourselves for the electric silence and the talking.   

On stage at the CLSA event, after explaining the Abe statement, I told a little of Jan’s story. I said to Ms Koike that I hoped that for both strategic policy reasons and because of the simple truth of what these women had been saying about their own lives in a committee room in Congress, the Abe administration would change course, and choose a path of historical reconciliation. After all, if a country so deeply imbued with racist attitudes as the Australia of my childhood could overcome most of its war-borne antipathy for Japan, then surely it was possible to at least start that process here. Ms Koike thanked me for my policy advice – with some asperity.

After the session, the atmosphere in the backstage waiting room was a tad awkward for the CLSA suits. I apologised to Ms Koike for ambushing her, but she was unflustered, and brushed any unpleasantness aside. That’s politics she said, smiling. I was about to say to her that Jan Ruff O’Herne was a deeply religious and decent person, outside the world of politics, and except for this issue, which marked her so deeply, she was an “ordinary” person who I felt sure Ms Koike would be able to talk with. 

“Sometimes God asks of us, late in life, to do an amazing task. And this has come to me late in life, you know. Without my faith I couldn’t have even survived the time that I was in the comfort stations. My faith has always been the backbone of my whole life.”[8]  

Before I was able to say any of these well-meaning, but, as it turned out, naive things, Ms. Koike leaned towards me and said,

“But you know, all this is the work of Korean leftists. There’s nothing to it.”

I was left with my mouth open as she wished me good bye, leaving the room with her minders. I realised that I had just heard the authentic voice of Japanese restorationist nationalism from a woman already spoken of at that time as a future prime minister. If a woman younger than me – and a journalist even! – was in such deep denial, it was clear that there really was nothing useful to be said. 

Just a few months earlier, at the ceremony to open the new Ministry of Defence, Prime Minister Abe declared it

“a landmark event that marks the end of the postwar regime and will lay the groundwork for building a new state.”[9]

There could not have been a clearer statement of the goal of the first Abe cabinet, which fizzled out ignominiously but typically a few months later. The most extreme nationalist amongst Japanese postwar leaders[10] (and grandson of war-criminal and later PM Kishi Nobusuke), Abe Shinzo is again the leader of America’s most important ally in the Pacific pivot, and once again, despite American hopes of a return to alliance stability, the issue of sexual slavery is on the Abe agenda. Most ominously, there has been a Cabinet-level suggestion of “revising” the 1993 “Kono statement” over sexual slavery[11], and Prime Minister Murayama’s 1995 apology.[12]

Militarily, of course, the process of Heisei militarisation Japan has undertaken over the past two decades has made it into a quiet military powerhouse, much more capable of close and effective operational coordination with the US than at the end of the Cold War.[13] But politically, Japan is the sick man of Asia, capable of neither building the successor to the late, great Japan Incorporated, nor abjuring the enduring toxins of its colonial and military domination of East and Southeast Asia three generations ago. The United States may well wonder whether the new state Abe has in mind is one that fulfills American hopes.

Go to next page for references