Abe: Visit more than meets the eye?

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMER­I­CAS -

In the Fi­nan­cial Times, writer Joji Saku­rai called Abe’s visit “a dovish act that masks a hawk­ish in­tent”. The visit is “shrewd pol­i­tics”, through which Abe could defuse fears about mil­i­tarism reawak­en­ing in Ja­pan, Saku­rai wrote.

“Mr. Abe’s dream is to re­vise Ja­pan’s paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion, drawn up by the US un­der post­war oc­cu­pa­tion, to al­low the coun­try to have a real army,” he wrote.

Zhiqun Zhu, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at the Buck­nell Univer­sity, said Ja­pan’s WWII prob­lem is rather with its Asian neigh­bors where it col­o­nized or in­vaded.

“The his­tory chap­ter can never be closed from the per­spec­tives of Ja­pan’s neigh­bors so long as Ja­panese of­fi­cials con­tinue to white­wash wartime atroc­i­ties, visit the Ya­sukuni Shrine, or deny Nank­ing mas­sacre and com­fort women,” Zhu said.

On Tues­day, the As­so­ci­a­tion for In­her­it­ing and Prop­a­gat­ing the Mu­rayama State­ment, a Ja­panese civic group, is­sued a state­ment urg­ing Abe to visit Nan­jing and other lo­ca­tions of Ja­panese atroc­i­ties be­fore and dur­ing World War II.

“The Ja­panese Im­pe­rial Army killed far more civil­ians in the Nan­jing Mas­sacre, the germ war­fare in Harbin and in some other places in Asia, and it is in­tol­er­a­ble just to memo­ri­al­ize the US dead while ig­nor­ing the vic­tims in Asian coun­tries,” said Takak­age Fu­jita, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

The group aims to up­hold the 1995 state­ment is­sued by then Ja­panese prime min­is­ter Tomi­ichi Mu­rayama apol­o­giz­ing for dam­age and suf­fer­ing caused by Ja­pan.

Nell Cal­loway, di­rec­tor of the Chen­nault Avi­a­tion and Mil­i­tary Mu­seum in Mon­roe, Louisiana, said, “I feel the visit by Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Abe to Pearl Har­bor ... was mean­ing­less and he was noth­ing more than a tourist.” Cal­loway is the grand­daugh­ter of the famed Fly­ing Tigers’ Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Claire Lee Chen­nault, who com­manded US pi­lots who fought the Ja­panese in China.

Zhang Jingquan, a pro­fes­sor of Ja­panese stud­ies at Jilin Univer­sity, said that Abe’s visit was a way to strengthen the Ja­pan-US al­liance and jointly curb the rise of China.

On Wed­nes­day, more pro­test­ers than usual showed up for the weekly de­mon­stra­tion in front of the Ja­panese em­bassy in Seoul. South Korean “com­fort women” meet there to de­nounce be­ing forced into sex­ual slav­ery dur­ing the war, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

It marked the an­niver­sary of what pro­test­ers called a “hu­mil­i­at­ing” agree­ment last year be­tween South Korea and Ja­pan meant to be a fi­nal set­tle­ment of the is­sue in ex­change for $8.3 mil­lion for a foun­da­tion for the vic­tims, Xin­hua re­ported. Pro­test­ers called for an­nul­ment of the agree­ment, and the group also held a re­mem­brance for seven of the women who died this year.

The Ja­panese mil­i­tary co­erced as many as 200,000 women from the Asian coun­tries into sex­ual slav­ery dur­ing the war, his­to­ri­ans say.

Chen Wei­hua con­trib­uted to the story.

Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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