Abe’s Pearl Har­bor visit masks ‘hawk­ish’ in­tent

Ja­panese prime min­is­ter only try­ing to strengthen US al­liance to curb rise of China, an­a­lysts say

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE and MO JINGXI

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Har­bor, crit­i­cized by China as lack­ing in sin­cer­ity, was quickly fol­lowed by one of his Cabi­net min­is­ters vis­it­ing a Tokyo war shrine on Wed­nes­day.

Ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts, Abe’s visit to Pearl Har­bor, the tar­get of the 1941 Ja­panese sur­prise at­tack on Hawaii, had hawk­ish in­ten­tions at heart, not pur­su­ing peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. The pur­pose, they said, was to broaden Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties and curb the rise of China by strength­en­ing the al­liance with the United States.

On Tues­day, Abe and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama laid wreaths at the USS Ari­zona Me­mo­rial.

After­ward, in a speech, Abe said that Ja­pan would never again wage war. On Dec 7, 1941, the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor killed more than 2,400 US cit­i­zens and drew the US into World War II.

Not long af­ter Abe spoke, Masahiro Ima­mura, the min­is­ter in charge of re­con­struc­tion of north­ern Ja­pan af­ter the 2011 tsunami, of­fered prayers at the Ya­sukuni Shrine, which hon­ors Ja­pan’s war dead, in­clud­ing 14 Class-A war crim­i­nals from World War II. Class-A con­victs were found guilty of plot­ting and car­ry­ing out the war.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said Ja­pan should re­flect upon its war crimes in a sin­cere man­ner rather than “make po­lit­i­cal shows re­peat­edly”. She spoke at a reg­u­lar news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

The rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween Ja­pan and vic­tim­ized Asian coun­tries, in­clud­ing China, must be based on Tokyo’s sin­cere reflection on the suf­fer­ing it caused, she said, adding that some Western me­dia have used words like “shrewd” to de­scribe Abe’s visit.

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.

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.

CAROLYN KASTER / AP

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe lay wreaths at the USS Ari­zona Me­mo­rial in Hawaii on Tues­day.

JUNG YEON-JE / AFP

For­mer South Korean “com­fort women” Gil Won-ok (left) and Kim Bok-dong at­tend a protest on Wed­nes­day call­ing for an­nul­ment of a set­tle­ment be­tween Seoul and Tokyo on the is­sue.

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