Specifically, regarding the wartime abuse of foreign women:
[T]here are widespread concerns that Mr. Abe and other conservative Japanese lawmakers may try to water down or reverse such public admissions of guilt [of misuse of foreign women], as part of a broader push to change the way the nation regards its wartime history.
Speaking in Japanís parliament, Mr. Abe reiterated the position of conservative scholars here that Japanese soldiers and government officials had no hand in forcing women into brothels during the war; they say that private contractors hired by the Japanís military were to blame.
But by insisting that the coercion in the military brothels was not the work of officials or the military, Mr. Abe is effectively dismissing as liars the aging women who have come forward with tearful testimony about their ordeals ó a stance with public-relations risks of its own.
One of the women is Lee Yong-soo, 78, a South Korean who testified in the House last month that she had been kidnapped by Japanese soldiers at the age of 16 and had been raped repeatedly at an army brothel. In a news conference last week in Tokyo, she said Japanese soldiers dragged her from her home with her mouth covered so that she could not call to her mother for help. ďI want Japan and the Japanese prime minister to apologize,Ē she said. ďAs a victim who was forcibly taken, as someone who lived through those events, Iím a living witness.Ē
Blaming private contractors and not the military per se will likely be a meme Americans will become familiar with in the decades ahead. But in the Japanese case, the refusal to acknowledge the past isn't limited to “comfort women” or even refusal to acknowledge the sack of Nanjing. Abe recently pushed through revisions to the “Fundamental Law of Education of 1947” to require Japanese schools to foster “civic-mindedness [to contribute to the development of society]” and “an attitude that respects tradition and culture and love of the nation that fostered them.” Whitewashing the past as law and curriculum.
Western minds are bombarded with reminders of German atrocities 1939-45. Yet few realize the Japanese perhaps surpassed those crimes. The following article details Unit 731 and its activities in China. Even that doesn't cover the scope of what occurred. Evidence slowly emerges now 1/2 a century later only in faint remorse.
Akira Makino is a frail widower living near Osaka in Japan. His only unusual habit is to regularly visit an obscure little town in the southern Philippines, where he gives clothes to poor children and has set up war memorials.
Mr Makino was stationed there during the war. What he never told anybody, including his wife, was that during the four months before Japan's defeat in March 1945, he dissected ten Filipino prisoners of war, including two teenage girls. He cut out their livers, kidneys and wombs while they were still alive. Only when he cut open their hearts did they finally perish.
These barbaric acts were, he said this week, “educational”, to improve his knowledge of anatomy. “We removed some of the organs and amputated legs and arms. Two of the victims were young women, 18 or 19 years old. I hesitate to say it but we opened up their wombs to show the younger soldiers. They knew very little about women - it was sex education.”
Japan's refusal to acknowledge the past is important because the Japanese have decided that to maintain its diplomatic and political relevance to Washington in an age of Chinese ascendancy, they must remilitarize and develop substantial force projection capabilities. Rightly or wrongly, the Japanese have concluded that this is the path that matters to a still preponderant superpower committed to force over diplomacy in international relations.
To be an ally of consequence, Japan needs to remilitarize when that superpower has sidelined diplomacy to a means of last resort to solve international disputes. The US-led “global war on terrorism” is a shoot first, ask questions later operation in which multilateral diplomacy begins only when war fails, as the current situation in Iraq demonstrates. Japan's aspiration to be again a player of consequence in international affairs requires it to develop credible force-projection capability. As Japan moves to imitate US neo-liberalism in economics, it moves also to echo US militarism in international relations.
A tragic development. We happen to agree with this analysis. All should all remember it wasn't just Cheney, DoD, Green, the Neocons, et al. Don't forget. Armitage and the General Jello crew also urged Japan to dump Article 9 from its Constitution and re-arm.
Tags: Japan, Article 9, Prime Minister Abe, Comfort Women