Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Message

Toshio Motoya
The Frenchman found it. The Englishman skewered it. And the Americans either puzzled over it or analyzed it. But the kicker is that one of America's most prominent Japan Alliance Managers repeated it, some of it.

No matter what you say, this interview of Japan's new Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura by real estate mogul and rightwing kingmaker Toshio Motoya is frank. Shimomura is a close ally of Abe and served as his deputy chief Cabinet secretary in 2006, during the prime minister's first term in office.

Motoya is best known for his "True Interpretations of Modern History" essay contest. The 2008 awardee was Japan Air Self Defense Force General Toshio Tamogami who wrote that the US, not Japan was the aggressor country in WWII. The General was promptly fired.

Shimomura is one of the signatories of the November 4, 2012 advertisement in the New Jersey Star Ledger disputing the "facts" that the Comfort Women were sex slaves. In addition to Prime Minister Abe, Shimomura is among the eight members of the Abe Cabinet plus the head of the LDP Policy Research Council who signed the ad.

Thus, Shimomura's views on the sources of Japan's national malaise and history are no surprise. He believes that the Japanese people must become "free of the postwar systems, consciousness, and Tokyo Trials historical viewpoint in order to make over Japan into a new country."

What is interesting, however, is his opinion as to why the first Abe Administration failed. It is a message that seems to be repeated so often that it looks like coordinated spin. Some are even certain that the Abe people have a coordinated public relations strategy.

Shimomura simply said Abe was done in by his liberal critics:
 There were two reasons for Prime Minister Abe’s resignation halfway through his term. The first was criticism from the mass media, which is steeped in the ideologies of the postwar regime. The media outlets - centered on the Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun newspapers - continue to affirm the current situation, based on socialist ways of thinking.
What is interesting is how often this explanation is heard in Washington.

Mike Green, Toyota Japan Chair at CSIS and formerly NSC Asia official, repeated this view at a Heritage Foundation event on December 10, 2012 program, Assessing the South Korean and Japanese Elections. He said (at around 1:20:40 on the video):
He [Abe] was extremely well regarded by not only by us but by the Australians, the Europeans. The whole problem he got into as Prime Minister over comfort women came around 2007 or 2008. And frankly, The New York Times, and The Left, just went at him, just went at him because inside Japan the Asahi Shimbun on the Left just hated him, not the political reporters but the editorial board in Asahi Shimbun hated him, hated him, and so I think there was a bit of importation of Asahi Shimbun and a little bit of Mainichi Shimbun views of Abe into the New York Times The LA Times that got big play: dangerous rightist, pal of Bush, and all that. Damaged his image with elites in the United State who didn’t see him the way we did in government where he was extremely strategic and effective…decisive. 
This was paraphrased, but reported as a quote, in Sankei Shimbun's "America Notes: Mistaken criticism of [Japan] tilting right, by Yoshihisa Komori, special editorial member in Washington" as:
I am afraid that, with new policymakers coming into the Obama administration in the second term, they will be influenced by views held by some in South Korea and send a warning to the Abe administration of shifting to the right. That would be a big mistake. It would surely destroy Japan's trust in the U.S." 
In the U.S., the leftist elite and the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have used the so-called comfort-women issue to attack the Abe administration as 'dangerously right-wing'. They did so without acknowledging Mr. Abe's strategic contribution at the gov-gov level. Such 'Abe bashing' was done by way of importing some of the techniques of the Asahi Shimbun, which anyway hates Abe. I would like them to refrain from such in the future.
There you have it, all have stayed on message that Abe's critics where too critical. He was just another victim of too much media scrutiny.

Later: See, "Japan not becoming right-wing, returning from the left: Left says Abe is wrong for being Right, but is their Right really Left?" Japan Business Press, February 11, 2013 by Yoshihisa Komori. This is his translation of his Sankei Shimbun article.

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