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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"History is harsh" and other sick jokes

As expected (see "Sweeping History Under The Red Carpet"), Shinzo Abe delivered, under one of his trademark smokescreens, an unapologetic speech to the joint session of the US Congress.

The controversial Japanese PM took no chances ahead of the event:
- press muzzled at home (e.g. "Effort by Japan to Stifle News Media Is Working" by Martin Fackler - NYT 20150426)
- USA bribed with sweeteners (no to AIIB, yes to TPP), and of course the promise to D.C. hawks that the region will be over-militarized for the decades to come (Collective Self Defense)
- public opinion fooled with symbolic visits (ah, the irony of watching a war crime negationist visit a Holocaust museum, a sex slavery denier tour the Lincoln Memorial...)
- ...

So let's listen to his messages.
Video and transcript of Shinzo Abe's speech in US Congress. Needed big font to deliver his fine print revisionism (
Following his new mantra, Abe repeats that he "will uphold the views expressed by the previous prime ministers", but he never voices them, precisely because they include the closest thing to personal apologies ever uttered by past Japanese leaders.

Typically, where Murayama stated his personal remorse and apology ("my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology"*) over 'tremendous damage and suffering' caused to many nations by Japan's 'mistaken national policy', 'colonial rule and aggression', Abe keeps his distances and discards the key words 'apology', 'colonial rule' or 'aggression', and of course 'irrefutable facts of history' (see transcript). Even the 'human trafficking' tested on the way to D.C. disappeared. 

Fundamentally, Abe only refers to standard war casualties and collateral damage that occur in any kind of conflict: "History is harsh", people died on both sides, and Japan has not done anything worse than other belligerents. Again, you couldn't expect formal apologies from a man who devoted his whole life to the negation of war crimes and the destruction of post-war Japan (see Nippon Kaigi agenda). 

Abe can allow himself to get personal for the US victims of WWII ("with deep repentance in my heart"), but always remains distant from past embryos of apologies ("Post-war, we started out on our path bearing in mind feelings of deep remorse over the war") that are now restricted to the paragraph on Asian nations.

Abe's difference in treatment between the US and Asian nations reaches deeper than the need to tailor his speech for the US Congress: Abe clearly poses at the same level as the former (we fought each other, we're now friends, it was a good game, fair play, all is well), and leagues over the latter (the condescending "We must all the more contribute in every respect to the development of Asia. We must spare no effort in working for the peace and prosperity of the region").

In his speech, Abe mentions a couple of people present in the gallery, but of course not LEE Yong-soo halmoni, one of the last survivors of Imperial Japan's sexual slavery system. She came with Mike HONDA, who along with Steve Israel, Bill Pascrell, and Charles Rangell, took yet another stand at the Congress ahead of Abe's visit. GOP lawmakers were M.I.A. except Marco Rubio, who asked Shinzo Abe to cope with the issue... two days before licking his boots in a Wall Street Journal oped**. Some hawks / lobbyists / fundraisers must have reminded him that he could not say whatever he wanted during his presidential campaign.

Speaking of hawks: Shinzo Abe mentioned at least 3 fellow Nippon Kaigi followers in his speech: Yoshitaka Shindo, Fumio Kishida, and Gen Nakatani. The last two worked with John Kerry and Ashton Carter on a framework to push Abe and Nippon Kaigi's key reform, deliciously hyped as "a sweeping one in our post-war history".

If "the darkest night fell upon Japan" on March 11, 2011, history will also remember as a national tragedy the date Abe starts his destruction of post-war Japan by tearing down its peaceful constitution. A national tragedy except of course in the textbooks monitored by this jaded revisionist...

Gladly hiding behind Abe's smokescreen to push their own, more short-sighted agenda, the US clearly don't end up looking like the world's only hyperpower. And even if Abe didn't expose the triumphant body language of Netanyahu on the same soapbox a few weeks earlier, he clearly looks closer to his lifetime dream (Japan's nightmare) than ever.

Yesterday, at the Asan Plenum, Alexis Dudden distributed this Asahi Shimbun cartoon showing the leaders of the trilateral alliance (then LBJ, Park Chung-hee, Eisatu Sako) two days after the June 22, 1965 pact between Japan and Korea. Carrying the diminutive Park on his back, a towering Johnson says 'now I can rest easy, too' while his Asian partners shake hands:

The day after Shinzo Abe's speech in Congress, I guess it could show the US thanking Japan before leaving: 'thanks for taking care of the region, they need me somewhere else'. As they shake hands, the US and Japan seem to be of the same height, because the latter is standing on Korea's corpse.

Seoul Village 2015
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* key paragraph in Tomiichi Murayama's 1995 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. Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history"

** "Sen. Marco Rubio takes on Japanese prime minister over 'comfort women'" (L.A. Times 20150428) followed by "Asia Needs a Strong U.S.-Japan Alliance" (WSJ 20150430)

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