Archive for the ‘Abe Shinzo’ Category

Alarming situation in Japan

April 21, 2017

Dear Friends,

Conscientious Japanese do not forget the goal described in the Constitution “We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace.” They are required to stay particularly vigilant to any departure from it, under present circumstances.

The Japanese Government has decided to tolerate the use of Adolf Hitler’s autobiography “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”) as teaching material in schools. It is known that this book advocates fascism, racism and extremism.
Earlier, the Government announced its intention to allow equally the use of the Imperial Rescript on Education of 1890.

It has stunned the majority of the Japanese and, to a greater degree, the international community, because it reveals undeniably the move of returning to the prewar militarism.
On April 18, Chinese Foreign Ministry official’s reaction was reported as expected. It is to the effect that fascism and militarism “must be held thoroughly accountable and eradicated” and that Japan must educate its young people with “the right view of history”.

Something seems to be wrong in Japan.
The credibility of the party in power is seriously being damaged by successive scandals in addition to the Moritomo school problem and newly surfacing Kakei school affair, concerning the transfer of national land and the supply of huge grant-in-aid.

Mr.Toshinao Nakagawa has tendered his resignation as Parliamentary vice minister of Economy, Trade and Industry for having had an extramarital affair. We are reminded of recent verbal gaffs by a number of ministers and the presence in the Cabinet of certain incompetent ministers.

A few days ago, a commentator of the Television Asahi expressed his astonishment about the unprecedented resolution of the commission to enable the presence of a director-general of the Ministry of Justice in order to assist the Minister of Justice. Opposition parties are severely criticizing the autocratic management of the parliamentary deliberations.

It is noteworthy that Chairman Natsuo Yamaguchi of Komeito, the coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party could not refrain from stating in his recent public speech made a few days ago that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “strikingly lacking in a sense of alertness.”

To complicate the situation, the President of the organizing Committee, Yoshiro Mori, has written a book commented in the attached Japanese article.
It seems to be a fierce attack against Governor Koike. President Mori is” fighting against two fears,one is cancer and the other is the blade of Governor Koike”. This will invite a discussion on the “under control” assertion. I have sent to Gonernor Koike the attached message to reiterate my conviction that the retreat from the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 would mark the beginning of a new age awaited by the majority of the Japanese.

Please allow me to count on your understanding and support.

Mitsuhei Murata
Former Ambassador to Switzerland

2 Attachments


Opposition parties demand Abe’s wife testify over school land scandal

March 24, 2017

POLITICS MAR. 24, 2017 – 07:00AM JST ( 25 )
Opposition parties demand Abe’s wife testify over school land scandal
Akie Abe
Reuters photo
Opposition parties stepped up calls Thursday for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife Akie to be summoned to testify in parliament, after the head of a nationalist school operator reiterated under oath in the Diet earlier in the day that she had handed over a donation for the organization on the prime minister’s behalf.

The ruling camp led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party dismissed the claim by Yasunori Kagoike, which was previously denied by Abe’s wife.

“The curtain did not close on the problem (with Kagoike’s testimony in the Diet), but rather just opened,” main opposition Democratic Party leader Renho said in a press conference, emphasizing the party’s resolve to pursue Abe over the scandal.

Despite Abe’s repeated denials, the Moritomo Gakuen chief told the Diet that the prime minister had donated 1 million yen ($8,900) through Akie to help build a new elementary school.

“Mr. Kagoike’s testimony was one-sided. It is necessary to arrange an opportunity to confirm the facts with Madam Akie under the same conditions,” Renho said, calling on Abe’s wife to appear in parliament as a sworn witness.

The Osaka Prefecture-based school operator has been under fire since it was revealed that it paid a fraction of the appraisal price for land purchased from the state in the city of Toyonaka to open the school. The dubious land deal sparked suspicions of political interference and led to scrutiny of Kagoike’s ties with the Abes.

Akira Koike, the head of the Japanese Communist Party’s secretariat, said, “It is suspected Prime Minister Abe had something to do with (the land deal). We believe this is an extremely serious problem.”

Meanwhile, LDP Diet affairs chief Wataru Takeshita said, “It is clear that we have drawn a line. Nothing new has come out at all about the state-owned land.”

Hakubun Shimomura, executive acting secretary general of the LDP, said, “I believe the people understood that the cut-price state land deal was not affected by political power.”

Kagoike’s comments were in sharp contrast with the explanation provided by the prime minister’s office regarding the alleged donation.

Kagoike said Thursday that the prime minister’s wife handed over the money when they were alone together in a room at a Moritomo Gakuen kindergarten that she was visiting to make a speech. But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied in a press conference that Kagoike and Akie Abe had met alone.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP’s junior coalition partner the Komeito party, cast doubt on the credibility of Kagoike’s testimony, stating the chief of the school operator had “failed to present any supporting evidence.”

But an LDP lawmaker expressed concern over the possible negative impact on the Abe Cabinet’s support ratings. “The Moritomo problem will drag on. The prime minister will continue to be faced with difficulties.”



Scandal-hit school operator says he received donation from Abe

March 16, 2017

POLITICS MAR. 16, 2017 – 06:00PM JST ( 27 )
Scandal-hit school operator says he received donation from Abe
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
AP photo
The head of a school operator mired in controversy over its cut-price purchase of a plot of state-owned land in western Japan said Thursday he received a donation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the elementary school that was to open on the site.

Speaking to ruling and opposition lawmakers visiting the site, Yasunori Kagoike, the head of operator Moritomo Gakuen, said, “Money donated by Abe was included in” the funds for the school.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said in a press conference in Tokyo hours later that Abe had denied the alleged donation.

The school, located in the city of Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, was being built on the 8,770-square-meter plot that the operator bought from the government in June last year for 134 million yen ($1.17 million)—only around 14 percent of its appraised value.

The funds for the school were allegedly raised using Abe’s name at one point. Abe’s wife, Akie, was to serve as the school’s honorary principal but resigned after questions were raised about the controversial land deal and the policies of a kindergarten run by the school operator.

Abe said neither he nor his wife was involved in the land deal and has pledged to resign as prime minister and lawmaker should their involvement in the deal be proven.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada was forced to continue defending herself amid opposition calls for her to resign following her retraction of remarks made in parliament earlier this week.

On Tuesday, she apologized for initially denying having ever given Moritomo Gakuen legal advice or represented it in a trial, admitting that she had represented the school operator as a lawyer in a civil case hearing before she was elected to parliament.

The opposition is intensifying its pressure on the defense minister, alleging that she lied to parliament, while at the same time pursuing her over a fresh allegation that the Ground Self-Defense Force had destroyed electronic data on its peacekeeping mission in South Sudan in a coverup.

“She cannot ward off public distrust,” said Yoshio Urushibara, a senior member of the Komeito party, the junior coalition partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.

In connection with her past legal work for Moritomo Gakuen, Inada told parliament on Thursday that it was only after the latest controversy came to light that she learned that her husband had forged a contract with the school operator to provide legal counsel. Her husband, Ryuji Inada, is also a lawyer, and both belonged to the same firm.

“As much as I wanted to share this information with you, I refrained from making it public because my husband is a private citizen and I have an obligation to maintain confidentiality,” she said in parliament. Inada also told parliament that her father was acquainted with Kagoike, but she does not believe he was close to him.


Abe’s support dives in wake of school scandal: online poll

March 10, 2017

POLITICS MAR. 10, 2017 – 04:30PM JST ( 25 )
Abe’s support dives in wake of school scandal: online poll
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
AP photo
Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has plunged after questions were raised in parliament about a murky land deal involving an elementary school to which his wife had ties, according to an online poll published this week.

Abe has said neither he nor his wife, Akie, was involved in the deal for state-owned land purchased by Moritomo Gakuen, an educational body in the western city of Osaka that also runs a kindergarten promoting patriotism.

But an online survey by Japan’s Nikkei business daily found that Abe’s support fell to 36.1% in a survey conducted from March 4 to 7 from 63.7% in the previous week.

Of the 2,655 respondents, 70.8% said they would like the school principal and other relevant people to answer questions on the issue before parliament as opposition parties have demanded, a request that Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has so far refused.

The LDP last Sunday formalized a rule change that will allow party presidents a third consecutive three-year term, allowing Abe, who has been largely untainted by scandal and whose rule is now in its fifth year, to run again after his current tenure as party chief ends in September 2018. If the LDP stays in power, that makes it highly likely that Abe would remain as premier.

Japanese markets shrugged off the news, mainly because the school scandal is still viewed as a transient factor, said Hiroaki Hiwada, a strategist at Toyo Securities Co.

“Up to now, there haven’t been any scandals in which Abe was the main actor, so that even though some foreign investors may be using this as a reason to hold back there are still many expectations for his policies based on the success of the recent Japan-U.S. leaders’ summit,” he added.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.


Abe pulled into scandal

March 1, 2017

a scandal over a school threatens to entangle Abe:

Bigotry and Fraud Scandal at Kindergarten Linked to Japan’s First Lady:

Japan’s Abe pulled into scandal over cut-price land deal:

Prime Minister Abe’s Approval Ratings Rise Despite Cabinet Scandal:

Japan history revisionists bolder under Abe: analysts

February 20, 2017

POLITICS FEB. 20, 2017 – 10:32AM JST ( 52 )

Japan history revisionists bolder under Abe: analysts

A man walks past advertising for the APA hotel group at a subway station in Tokyo
Successful hotel chain operator Toshio Motoya doesn’t mind if his denial of a notorious Japanese World War II military atrocity in China drives customers away.

Motoya not only penned a book calling the 1937 Nanjing massacre a lie but proudly displays it in guest rooms of his nationwide chain of APA hotels.

In protest, China and South Korea pulled their athletes from his inns for the Asian Winter Games that began in Sapporo on Sunday. China has also told its tour businesses to stop cooperating with APA, essentially calling for a boycott.

Motoya has told supporters he “will never withdraw” the book under foreign pressure.

Such an attitude, analysts say, shows how those who whitewash Japan’s modern history are growing more emboldened by what they see as a tacit wink from hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Now in his fifth year in power, Abe makes no secret of his nationalist views. He says Japan must shake off past constraints, including altering its war-renouncing constitution imposed by American occupiers after World War II.

Tamotsu Sugano, an expert on Japanese rightist groups, said hotelier Motoya has close ties with ultra-conservative lobby Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, which has published a dossier calling the Nanjing massacre a “false accusation”.

And while Abe does not question the massacre, he and more than half his cabinet ministers hold membership in a parliamentarians’ league that supports the group.

“Since he was first elected to parliament, Abe has acted very closely with the core members” of Nippon Kaigi, said Sugano, who has written a book on the organisation.

Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo, says revisionism has been rising among politicians, the business sector and media since the late 1990s.

“Abe has been careful after becoming prime minister, but his firm foothold is these people,” Nakano said, calling him “their flag bearer”.

The prime minister, who once prevaricated over whether Japan’s wartime aggression amounted to “invasion”, has also appointed cabinet ministers with a revisionist bent.

And while Abe has stood by previous government apologies for the war, he said ahead of the 70th anniversary of its end in 2015 that future generations should not have to say sorry.

China says 300,000 people died in a six-week spree of killing, rape and destruction by the Japanese military that began in December 1937.

Some respected academics estimate a lower number of victims, but mainstream scholarship does not question that the incident, known as the “Rape of Nanking,” took place.

Motoya’s book, dryly titled “The Real History of Japan: Theoretical Modern History II,” uses the word “fabrication” to describe Nanjing.

“Revisionists in Japan are seeking to rewrite Japan’s shared wartime history in Asia and promoting an exonerating narrative that ignores what happened,” Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, told AFP in an email.

Motoya has also come under fire for anti-Semitic comments made in an in-house magazine placed in his Canada hotels, asserting that Jews “control” key sectors of the United States.

His history book has elicited no condemnation from the Japanese government and little from media or broader society.

The nationalist Sankei Shimbun daily has rather applauded the government for “neither pressuring APA hotel nor urging self-restraint”.

The situation in Japan contrasts with Germany, where opinions expressing sympathy for Nazi rule are broadly considered unacceptable and displaying fascist symbols such as the swastika, or denying the Holocaust, are illegal.

Last year, an 87-year-old woman was sentenced to prison for denying that Auschwitz was a death camp.

The lack of vocal criticism over revisionist ideas in Japan, however, does not mean nationalist views resonate widely.

Indeed, voters have bet on Abe mainly for his promise to revitalise the economy. Polls show underwhelming support for his pet project of constitutional revision.

“The rise of China is stoking anxieties and nationalism in Japan, but nationalism doesn’t resonate powerfully among Japanese because they understand what can go wrong,” said Temple University’s Kingston.

© 2017 AFP

Obama administration opposed Abe-Trump meeting: source

December 5, 2016

POLITICS DEC. 05, 2016 – 05:03PM JST ( 17 )
Obama administration opposed Abe-Trump meeting: source
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York on Nov 17.
Cabinet Public Relations Office/HANDOUT via Reuters
The U.S. administration of President Barack Obama conveyed its opposition to Japan over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to meet with President-elect Donald Trump in mid-November in New York, a diplomatic source revealed Sunday.

Washington urged Tokyo not to go ahead with such an unprecedented meeting, saying the 70-year-old businessman had not yet assumed the U.S. presidency, the source said.

Despite Washington’s opposition, Abe became the first foreign leader to hold a face-to-face meeting with Trump as the premier made a stopover in New York en route to Peru to attend a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Japan stressed that the meeting between Abe and Trump would be unofficial, without dinner despite Trump’s invitation, but the Obama administration remained opposed.

Obama later had a brief chat with Abe on the fringes of the APEC summit in Lima on Nov. 20, despite the two countries’ earlier efforts to arrange sit-down talks which would have been the last bilateral summit as Obama leaves office in January, the source said.

Abe hailed the Japan-U.S. relationship in Hiroshima in May when Obama became the first incumbent U.S. leader to visit the city, using the phrase “trust and friendship”.

Although the two leaders had opportunities to hold bilateral talks at least three times since Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, all of them ended up as merely an exchange of words rather than a sit-down meeting.

The source suggested that Obama’s dissatisfaction with Abe’s approach to Russia could lie behind the seeming distance between the two allies.

With the aim of achieving a breakthrough in stalled territorial disputes with Russia, Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet in Japan on Dec. 15 and 16.

U.S.-Russian ties have soured in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 that drew international sanctions against Moscow.

In February this year, Obama urged Abe to refrain from visiting Russia in May as Washington tried to isolate Moscow over the Crimea issue.

According to the source, the U.S. government conveyed its opposition to Japan over the Abe-Trump meeting on Nov. 17 after the two men had agreed on it during telephone talks on Nov. 10 following Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice was at the forefront of the opposition within the White House, the source said.

As the United States told Japan it was unacceptable for Washington to see an Abe-Trump meeting over dinner as proposed by the president-elect, Tokyo drop the idea of a dinner meeting and denoted the New York meeting as “private and unofficial” with only Abe and a translator taking part.


Abe’s Super Mario act gets social media buzzing in Japan

August 23, 2016

Abe's Super Mario act gets social media buzzing in JapanJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a surprise appearance dressed as Super Mario during the closing ceremony of the Rio Games on Sunday night.AFP


Japan on Monday reacted with a mix of surprise, delight and cynicism at the sight of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dressed up as video game icon Super Mario in a comical cameo at the close of the Rio Olympics.

Social media immediately lit up as scenes of Abe wearing a Super Mario costume proved jaw-dropping to Japanese watching the spectacle on television half a world away.

“I was impressed to see a national leader sacrificing his reputation and showing up in cosplay at this world event,” posted a Japanese-language Twitter user.

“He is great.”

Most had apparently never conceived of the normally blue-suited and politically conservative Abe and the moustachioed Mario merging into one.

“I never thought of having Prime Minister Abe play Mario, let alone him emerging from plumbing,” another Twitter user said.

That was a reference to Abe’s entrance before the vast crowd at Rio’s Maracana stadium where plumber Super Mario came out from underground after drilling down from Tokyo into the earth to reach Brazil.

Some voices, however, were sharply critical.

“He popped up from a pipe grossly contaminated by radiation,” said one tweet, apparently referring to the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was crippled by a massive 2011 tsunami.

Abe came under fire in 2013 after he made a global promise to Olympic chiefs just ahead of a decision to award the Games to Tokyo, saying of the plant: “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”

The facility is being decommissioned and that is expected to take decades to achieve, while some areas around it remain uninhabitable due to high levels of radiation.

The closing ceremony and transfer of the Olympic flag to Tokyo was the top story in Japan’s evening newspapers, with some including short items on Abe’s transformation into Super Mario.

Tamayo Marukawa, the Japanese minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Games, told reporters in Tokyo she was not informed of Abe’s plan to portray the popular Nintendo game character.

“I didn’t know about this at all,” she said. I never imagined he would play Mario.”

She then suggested Abe should start calling himself “Shinzo Mario Abe” to raise his global profile.

Abe himself seemed satisfied.

“I wanted to show Japan’s soft power to the world with the help of Japanese characters,” he told reporters.

“I wasn’t sure how the audience would react,” he added. “But I received so many cheers. I appreciate it.”

© 2016 AFP


Comment: Why spending time (when nukes not under control, Takae osprey-pad endangering people and environ, Abenomix failing, …) and money (PM plane, travel cost, …)?

Obama’s Ironic Visit to Hiroshima

June 30, 2016
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds 6/29/2016 at 00:24:31

By       Message Michael Galli     Permalink

(Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 6/29/16

Abe and Obama
Abe and Obama
(image by Author)
  License   DMCA

Sixty years ago a “Class A” war criminal gave an address to congress in a bid to ensure that his peace-minded countrymen would not force the U.S. military from his homeland. 1,2 Nobusuke Kishi, a member of Hideki Tojo’s cabinet and a signatory to Japan’s declaration of war on America, was the top Japanese official in Japan’s annexed territory of Manchuria during a time of unspeakable crimes against humanity including mass rape, enslavement, murder of children and infants, biological experiments on civilians, including vivisection, and a beheading contest celebrated by his home country’s press.3.4,5,6,7 Arrested by the American occupation in 1945, he was freed three years later to be put back in power by the CIA so the U.S. could have a puppet government in Asia to check the growing fear of communism. Eight years after escaping the hangman’s noose that claimed some of his Class A colleagues, secret U.S. funds helped install him as Prime Minister.8 That was 1957, the same year he addressed U.S. lawmakers in Washington. When Kishi’s U.S.-sanctioned security treaty came to a vote in Japan three years later, he had the opposition forcibly removed from the voting chamber so it would pass. 9 Though the security agreement, which guaranteed large tracks of land for U.S. military bases, become law, it was so unpopular with the Japanese masses that Kishi was run out of office.

Last year, Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister of Japan, who happens to be Kishi’s grandson, made his own speech to congress in a bid to shore-up support for amending Japan’s U.S. written constitution that “forever renounce[s] war as a sovereign right of” the Japanese people.10, 11, 12 Although the move to allow the Japanese military to once again wage war is opposed by the majority of the Japanese population, the Obama administration has given Abe its full support. 13,14,15,16

Here lies the tragic irony of Obama’s visit to Hiroshima. Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, the President lamented, “The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible,” and again in Hiroshima he opined, “Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds, to cure disease and understand the cosmos, but those same discoveries can be turned into ever more efficient killing machines.” 17,18 Such statements made by a president who believes that “Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice (peace prize speech),” may lead one to ask, “How was justice served by placing a Class A war criminal head of state? 19 Where can one find justice in supporting his grandson’s renunciation of Japan’s “peace constitution?” Where is the justice in the recent authorization of U.S. weapon’s sales to Vietnam? 20 Where lurks justice in a massive assassination campaign, replete with abundant “collateral damage,” via drones? 21 Where can one read justice in the recently released UN report that 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes in 2015 by conflict or persecution, an all-time high?” 22 And most frightening and contradictory of all, “What direction is justice heading in the redesigning our own nuclear stockpile into ‘more efficient killing machines?'” Meet bomb B16 Model 12, the first precision guided nuclear weapon with a “dial a yield” setting which allows for the adjustment of its “explosive power.” 23General James E. Cartright, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command and a retired vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Defense Secretary William Perry have respectively stated that such weapons make their use “more thinkable” and raise “the possibilities of a ‘limited nuclear war.'” 24

Standing with Shinzo Abe at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Obama proclaimed:

[I]n the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction. How the very spark that marks us as a species, our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will — those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction. How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause. 25

He would know.


1. America’s Favorite War Criminal: Kishi Nobusuke and the Transformation of U.S.-Japan Relations:

2. Japanese protest security treaty with U.S. and unseat Prime Minister, 1959-1960: click here


4. America’s Favorite War Criminal: Kishi Nobusuke and the Transformation of U.S.-Japan Relations:

5. Reporting from Shanghai since the 1930s:

6. Unmasking Horror — A special report.; Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity:
7. The beheading competition:

8. America’s Favorite War Criminal: Kishi Nobusuke and the Transformation of U.S.-Japan Relations:

9. Japanese protest security treaty with U.S. and unseat Prime Minister, 1959-1960: Shinzo Abe Bets on America’s Fading Memories:

11. Japan’s Leader Has Little Use for Hiroshima’s Lessons of Pacifism: click here 12. Japan: Article 9 of the Constitution: 13. Japanese PM’s plan to allow troops to fight overseas angers voters: click here 14. America’s Military Pivot to Asia: Obama Wants Japan to be “Able to Wage War” against China: Hagel Welcomes Japan’s New Collective Self-defense Policy: Shinzo Abe Eyes End to Pacifist Japan’s Ban on Overseas Combat: Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize: click here 18. Text of President Obama’s Speech in Hiroshima, Japan: click here 19. Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize: click here 20. U.S. Lifts Arms Embargo on Vietnam: click here 21. Obama-led drone strikes kill innocents 90% of the time: report: Global forced displacement hits record high: ‘Modernizing’ the Opportunities for Nuclear War: 24. Ibid 25. Text of President Obama’s Speech in Hiroshima, Japan: click here

View Ratings | Rate It

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Why Obama Is Shinzo Abe’s Enabler

June 1, 2016

Why Obama Is Shinzo Abe’s Enabler

Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

President Obama with Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, on a visit to Hiroshima last week. Credit Carlos Barria/Reuters
TSURUGA, Japan — Visiting Hiroshima last Friday, President Obama warned that overcoming the perils of global conflict and nuclear weapons will require a “moral revolution” sustained by “the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family.” He omitted to mention that this notion has been the constitutional basis of Japan’s foreign policy since 1947. Future historians may conclude that Mr. Obama’s visit to Hiroshima provided a spectacle to help remilitarize the world’s wealthiest, most populous pacifist country.

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s election in 2012, the Obama administration has relied on Japan to help escalate America’s military presence in Asia. The Abe administration has expanded Japan’s commitment to maintaining U.S. bases, relaxed restrictions on bilateral arms trading, and negotiated a framework for joint operations that makes America responsible for maintaining a regional balance of power that protects Japanese interests.

This restructuring of the U.S.-Japan alliance depends on the continued progress of Mr. Abe’s legacy project: removing language from Japan’s Constitution that forbids the use of force to settle international disputes. The Abe administration has been able to shed the prevailing interpretation of this article, widely understood to prohibit the international deployment of Japanese troops, but the language itself continues to restrict the scope of Japan’s military operations, including activities integral to the defense agreement Mr. Abe and Mr. Obama struck last year.

Eliminating these restrictions is ostensibly in the interest of peace, because the alternative to a rearmed Japan is an unchecked — and nuclear-armed — China. But this assessment leaves no room for the possibility that Japan’s military, among the best equipped in the world, has exerted a moderating influence on the region precisely because the Constitution has protected it from misadventure.

In supporting Mr. Abe’s effort to restore Japan’s ability to join and wage wars, Mr. Obama has chosen the wrong strategic partner. The next U.S. president will inherit an East Asia policy vulnerable to the uncertainties of Japan’s transition away from pacifism. Since 2012, Mr. Abe’s foreign policy decisions have harmed Japan’s relationships with its neighbors, including the U.S. ally South Korea. Several of his political appointees have proven scandal-prone in matters of diplomacy.

And Japan might not accept America’s strategic dictates. Firm supporters of Mr. Abe’s agenda see their efforts as the casting off of the final remnants of the American occupation, so that Japan can reclaim its own superpower status. In the ideological terrain of contemporary Japanese politics, the accommodation of American interests is chiefly opportunistic, and the underlying motive is often retrograde nationalism. Mr. Abe’s push to revise the Constitution has coincided with cabinet-level attempts to renegotiate history: Whether so-called comfort women used by Japanese soldiers during World War II were “sex slaves” or if their work was a form of indentured servitude; and how many Chinese civilians died in the Nanking Massacre in 1937.

For Japanese voters, these debates formed the political and social context of Mr. Obama’s visit. Questions of war memory dominated press coverage. According to a 2015 survey by Pew Research, 56 percent of Americans believe the atomic bombings were necessary; 14 percent of Japanese agree. By delivering an appeal for disarmament in a nation whose pacifist Constitution his Asian pivot has helped to controvert, Mr. Obama has risked lending credibility to the dangerous notion beneath Abe’s rhetoric: that Japan can best retain its identity as a peace-loving culture by embracing the restoration of its martial role in international affairs.

If it were the will of the Japanese electorate to adopt the Abe doctrine, then the question of how Mr. Obama’s visit has contributed to its legitimization would be academic. But nearly none of Abe’s policies, including revision of the pacifist Constitution, poll well. He nonetheless enjoys reliably favorable approval ratings, attributed by the center-right media to his carefully-cultivated public persona and by the left to calculated manipulation of the national psyche.

Mr. Abe’s attempts to claim Japan’s collective memory have been less than democratic. He has been at war with the press since he took office, and has been especially zealous about destabilizing the country’s foremost daily newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, chief antagonist of his most hawkish positions. He has responded to multiple Supreme Court decisions requiring reform of the nation’s broken electoral system with a plan calculated to delay changes for as long as possible, a manipulation intended to give him time to build an opposition-proof majority in Parliament, and to create the illusion of an overwhelming mandate to remove pacifist language from the Constitution.

For Mr. Abe, Mr. Obama’s visit also provided a distraction from an initial wave of policy failures related to his American pivot. Early attempts to expand Japan’s arms export business have produced tepid results; and in anticipation of rearmament, the branches of Japan’s military have engaged in a wasteful struggle for funding — U.S. arms dealers have responded by price- gouging the Japanese government.

In Hiroshima, Mr. Obama praised the U.S.-Japan alliance, saying it has taught both countries to cherish peace. He did not reflect on the 69 years of Japanese pacifism that have kept Japan out of war while the United States has waged several. By neglecting them, in a speech that touched so many old wounds, Mr. Obama has advanced the politically fraught and historically unsupportable notion that Japan has been the victim of its painful past, not the beneficiary of its difficult lessons.

Dreux Richard is the author of the forthcoming “Every Human Intention: Japan in the New Century.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

Continue reading the main story

At Hiroshima Memorial, Obama Says Nuclear Arms Require ‘Moral Revolution’ MAY 27, 2016

In Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima, a Complex Calculus of Asian Politics MAY 25, 2016
At Hiroshima Memorial, Obama Says Nuclear Arms Require ‘Moral Revolution’ MAY 27, 2016

In Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima, a Complex Calculus of Asian Politics MAY 25, 2016