Showing posts with label Nippon Kaigi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nippon Kaigi. Show all posts

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Abe's Nationalist Japan

Australian National University Professor and APP member Rikki Kersten was interviewed on June 2nd byABC News about the consequences of Abe's retrogressive views of Japanese history and society. His interpretations of the past affect not only relations with Japan's Asia neighbors, but also with Western allied nations. As Dr. Kersten points out,
If Japan continues to provoke mistrust in its agenda, if it's nationalism continues to offend ,Japan cannot hope to act effectively economically diplomatically, or even in security terms. It is that simple.
Although there has been a steady stream of articles and speeches trying to refute impressions of new Japanese rightwing revisionism by Abe government supporters, there is evidence to the contrary. He is either founder or a prominent member of many conservative nationalist parliamentary leagues and study groups such as Nippon Kaigi and Sosei Nippon.

Abe is, as noted by Sophia University Koichi Nakano on the video above, a "nationalist by conviction."

Professor Kersten will visit Washington, DC in July to exchange views with American colleagues.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Educating Congress

In an update of their periodic report on Japan-US Relations: Issues for Congress (February 15, 2013) the Congressional Research Service (CRS) included background Abe history problems and on the continuing history issues of the American POWs of Japan and Comfort Women.

CRS wrote:

Abe and History Issues

During his year-long stint as Prime Minister in 2006-2007, Abe was known for his nationalist rhetoric and advocacy for more muscular positions on defense and security matters. Some of Abe’s positions—such as changing the interpretation of Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow for Japanese participation in collective self-defense—were largely welcomed by U.S. officials eager to advance military cooperation. Other statements, however, suggest that Abe embraces a revisionist view of Japanese history that rejects the narrative of imperial Japanese aggression and victimization of other Asians. He has been involved with groups arguing that Japan has been unjustly criticized for its behavior as a colonial and wartime power. 

Among the positions advocated by these groups, such as Nippon Kaigi Kyokai, are that Japan should be applauded for liberating much of East Asia from Western colonial powers, that the 1946-1948 Tokyo War Crimes tribunals were illegitimate, and that the killings by Imperial Japanese troops during the 1937 “Nanjing massacre” were exaggerated or fabricated. Historical issues have long colored Japan’s relationships with its neighbors, particularly China and South Korea, who remain resentful of Japan’s occupation and belligerence during the World War II period. Abe’s selections for his Cabinet appear to reflect these views, as he chose a number of politicians well-known for advocating nationalist, and in some cases ultra-nationalist views. 

The previous DPJ government adopted a more conciliatory view of Japan’s past and worked to mend historical wounds with South Korea and China. In August 2010, the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula, then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan renewed Japan’s apology for its treatment of Koreans during colonial rule, and offered to return historical documents and other artifacts taken from Korea. Until the end of their time in power, DPJ leaders also avoided visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, a shrine that honors Japan’s wartime dead and includes several Class A war criminals. Visits to the shrine by LDP Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had severely strained Tokyo’s relationships with Beijing and Seoul in the early and mid-2000s. 

Abe last visited the Yasukuni Shrine in October 2012, after he was elected president of the LDP but before the parliamentary elections that made him Prime Minister. Many analysts say that Abe’s re-ascension to the premiership risks inflaming regional relations, which could disrupt regional trade, threaten security cooperation among U.S. allies, and further exacerbate already tense relations with China. Abe is under pressure from the Japan Restoration Party, a new fiercely nationalist party that won the third largest number of seats in the Diet. On the other hand, during his last stint as Prime Minister, Abe successfully repaired ties with South Korea and China and is regarded by some observers as a pragmatic operator. Since becoming prime minister, he has not repeated his calls while in opposition to station Japanese civilians on the Senkaku Islands and to designate a national “Takeshima Day” to promote Japan’s assertion of sovereignty over the Dokdo/Takeshima island that is controlled by South Korea. Although relations with China are far more problematic now, he recently sent an envoy to reach out to the new government in South Korea, raising hopes that relations will not deteriorate significantly. 

Comfort Women Issue

Abe’s statements on the so-called “comfort women”—sex slaves used by the Japanese imperial military during its conquest and colonization of several Asian countries in the 1930s and 1940s—have been criticized by other regional powers and the U.S. House of Representatives in a 2007 resolution. Abe has suggested that his government might consider revising a 1993 official Japanese apology for its treatment of these women, a move that would be sure to degrade Tokyo’s relations with South Korea and other countries. 

In the past, Abe has supported the claims made by many on the right in Japan that the women were not directly coerced into service by the Japanese military. When he was Prime Minister in 2006-2007, Abe voiced doubts about the validity of the 1993 “Kono Statement,” an official statement issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that apologized to the victims and admitted responsibility by the Japanese military. As the U.S. House of Representatives considered H.Res. 121, calling on the Japanese government to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility” for forcing young women into military prostitution, Abe appeared to soften his commentary and asserted that he would stand by the statement. The House later overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution. Then-Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura had been leading the movement to revise the statement; Abe recently appointed him Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. 

The issue of the so-called comfort women has gained visibility in the United States, due primarily to Korean-American activist groups. These groups have pressed successfully for the erection of monuments commemorating the victims, passage of a resolution on the issue by the New York State Senate, and the naming of a city street in the New York City borough of Queens in honor of the victims. In addition, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly instructed the State Department to refer to the women as “sex slaves,” rather than the euphemistic term “comfort women.”

U.S. World-War II-Era Prisoners of War (POWs)

For decades, U.S. soldiers who were held captive by Imperial Japan during World War II have sought official apologies from the Japanese government for their treatment. A number of Members of Congress have supported these campaigns. The brutal conditions of Japanese POW camps have been widely documented. [22] In May 2009, Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki attended the last convention of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor to deliver a cabinet-approved apology for their suffering and abuse. In 2010, with the support and encouragement of the Obama Administration, the Japanese government financed a Japanese/American POW Friendship Program for former American POWs and their immediate family members to visit Japan, receive an apology from the sitting Foreign Minister and other Japanese Cabinet members, and travel to the sites of their POW camps. Annual trips were held in 2010, 2011, and 2012. [23] It is unclear whether the Abe government will continue the program. It is also unclear if Abe and other LDP politicians’ suggestions that past Japanese apologies should be reworded or retracted include the apologies to the U.S. POWs.

In the 112th Congress, three resolutions—S.Res. 333, H.Res. 324, and H.Res. 333—were introduced thanking the government of Japan for its apology and for arranging the visitation program. [24] The resolutions also encouraged the Japanese to do more for the U.S. POWs, including by continuing and expanding the visitation programs as well as its World War II education efforts. They also called for Japanese companies to apologize for their or their predecessor firms’ use of un- or inadequately compensated forced prison laborers during the war.

[22] By various estimates, approximately 40% percent held in the Japanese camps died in captivity, compared to 1%-3% of the U.S. prisoners in Nazi Germany’s POW camps. Thousands more died in transit to the camps, most notoriously in the 1942 “Bataan Death March,” in which the Imperial Japanese military force-marched almost 80,000 starving, sick, and injured Filipino and U.S. troops over 60 miles to prison camps in the Philippines. For more, see CRS Report RL30606, U.S. Prisoners of War and Civilian American Citizens Captured and Interned by Japan in World War II: The Issue of Compensation by Japan, by Gary Reynolds, currently out of print but available from the co-authors of this report. Estimates of the death rates in German prison camps for POWs are in the low single digits, compared to rates near 40% for Imperial Japanese camps.

[23] For more on the program, see Since the mid-1990s, Japan has run similar programs for the POWs of other Allied countries.

[24] S.Res. 333 (Feinstein) was introduced and passed by unanimous consent on November 17, 2011. H.Res. 324 (Honda) and H.Res.333 (Honda) were introduced on June 22, 2011, and June 24, 2011, respectively, and referred to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No comfort

Posted By Josh Rogin  

Right-wing Japanese lawmakers and activists have successfully rounded up more than 25,000 signatures for a petition on the White House website asking the Obama administration to force the state of New Jersey to take down a monument dedicated to the memory of "comfort women," the thousands of women kidnapped and raped by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The Bergen County executive dedicated a small monument in Palisades Park, New Jersey, in late 2010 that included the following inscription:


Ever since then, officials in the Japanese governmentand and elements of Japanese society that dispute the above facts related to the comfort women have been trying to get the monument, which is located in an area with a large Korean population, taken down.

Two delegations of Japanese officials visited Palisades Park last month to ask local leaders to remove the monument. One of the delegations was led by the Japanese consul-general in New York, Shigeyuki Hiroki. Local officials in New Jersey refused to remove the monument, even when offered cherry trees and other goodies from the Japanese government.

Now, the Japanese comfort-women deniers have a new tactic -- to go straight to the White House. They started a petition on the White House's official website and have conducted a successful campaign resulting in over 28,000 signatures.

"We petition the Obama administration to: Remove the monument and not to support any international harassment related to this issue against the people of Japan," the petition reads. "False accusations regarding the South Korean comfort women issue have disgraced the people of Japan for decades. Over the past few years it has come to light that many of the original charges were false or completely fabricated."

"Yet despite this new information, the United States continues to lend credence to the original false charges by memorializing the comfort women in a monument in New Jersey and a street name in New York. Not only is this perpetrating historical untruths, but it also leads unnecessary racial conflict and suffering of people of Japanese ancestry," the petition reads. "We strongly request President Obama to remove the monument and not to support any international harassment related to this issue against the people of Japan."

According to the White House website, the administration must give an official response to any petition that receives 25,000 signatures within 30 days of when it was originally posted. The Japanese comfort women petition crossed that threshold more than a week ahead of its June 9 deadline.
The massive amount of signatures came mostly from Japan and due to the direct advocacy of several Japanese lawmakers and former officials. A Japanese resident in the United States, by the name of Yasuko R, created the petition. A supporter can sign for the petition once a day.

The petition was advertised in Japan on the websites of Japanese lawmakers Eriko Yamatani and Keiji Furuya, who were part of one of the delegations that visited New Jersey, which included family members of some of the 13 Japanese citizens that were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nippon Kaigi, a right-wing Japanese organization, supported the petition's call to remove the monument, as did other organizations, including Nippon Kaigi Local Government (Pride of Japan), and The Spirit of Japan Party (Nihon Soshin To), which posted directions on how Japanese citizens could participate in the petition.

Major advocacy for the petition came from Toshio Tamogami, the former Japanese Air Force chief of staff who was fired in 2009 after creating an international incident by writing in an essay that Japan was "not an aggressor nation" in World War II. Tamogami not only called for petition signatures on his website, he gave instructions in Japanese for users to log onto the White House website so they could be part of the effort.

The comfort women issue and Japan's reluctance to come to terms with its wartime actions is still the No. 1 irritant in Japan's relations with its neighbors. For U.S.-based experts that are critical of Japan's handling of the issue, the petition and its underlying argument are doing great damage to Japan's ability to move past the events of the war.

"Is the Japanese right so strung out, so unpopular that it is reduced to these silly international stunts to get attention? Have they become so irrelevant that they have to prop up Comfort Women and Abductees of the North Koreans for attention? They have become as pathetic as their ideas," said Mindy Kotler, the founder of Asia Policy Point, a non-profit organization that does research on Japan.

She said one part of the problem is the failure of the U.S. government to connect its human rights and women's rights policies to Japan.

"We have built and demanded to build institutions around the world to address war crimes and human rights. In regard to historical war crimes, we have a bureau in the State Department on the Holocaust* and even appointed an ambassador in the late 1990s to deal with German and Austrian war crimes," she said. "But we have done nothing that addresses the lingering, if not festering problems of Japan's reluctantly acknowledged war crimes. It eats away at our alliances and undermines our ‘shared values.'"

The White House petition response should be posted "in a timely manner," according to the website.

*The Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Douglas Davidson
The Office seeks to bring a measure of justice and assistance to Holocaust victims and their families and to create an infrastructure to assure that the Holocaust is remembered properly and accurately. This is an important issue in our bilateral relations with countries of central and eastern Europe and with the state of Israel.