Abe: Visit more than meets the eye?
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.
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