Monday, May 13, 2013

Japan is leashed, for now

East and West, diplomats are puzzeled by the Abe Administration's emphasis on recasting Japan's war history as either defensive or entitled. Some think its source is the Japanese reluctance to speak ill of their ancestors, even if they are war criminals. Others believe that the Abe people are simply ideological.

Abe and his Cabinet suggest that no apologies are necessary for defending one's country or liberating another's.  That is not aggression. Treaties and international laws justified collecting colonies and territories. Imperial Japan believed in the rule of law.

The Sankei Shimbun editorial below appears to provide another explanation: it is good diplomacy to remind Japan's neighbors of how fanatical and belligerent Japanese can be. It is a unique and troubling argument of "Yasukuni/history as deterrence."

Being a 'Nice Boy' Is No Way To Do Diplomacy

Sankei Shimbun, 24 April 2013
[provisional translation/summary by APP for scholarly use]

First the author talks about the historical (late-1500s) example of the Shimazu-Clan, which ruled the Satsuma Region of southwest Kyushu. The Shimazus fought against future Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa's army, which was trying to (and eventually did) take control over all of Japan. Even though the Shimazu Clan lost against the Tokugawa forces at the large and crucial Battle of Sekigahara, they fought so hard (e.g., 1,000 warriors charged into the Tokugawa formation and fought until only 80 were left) that thereafter, the Satsuma region was not brought under as stringent control as others (i.e., because the Tokugawa Shogun didn't want to have to fight them again).

In a similar way, toward the end of WW-II, even though Japan was showing signs of weakening and being headed towards defeat, it continued to fight tenaciously, repeatedly sending "Special Attack Units" (Kamikaze) to strike at the enemy. This hard-core/fight-to-the-death Japanese combat caused fear/awe in the U.S. and Allied forces, and they did not want to fight the Japanese ever again, which resulted in the Occupation trying to "de-fang" Japan (e.g., through the Constitution) --- but, the same fear also kept the U.S./Allied Occupation from becoming too onerous to Japan and helped to keep the Showa Emperor in place.

So concerning Yasukuni Shrine... First, it is totally natural for Japanese leaders to visit the shrine and pray for the souls of the brave countrymen who fought so hard and gave their lives for their country. Secondly, it serves as a reminder of how hard/bravely Japanese soldiers fought (and could fight again) to those countries who would view Japan as an enemy or target. So, in a sense, the visits, which call attention to Japan's past military prowess, serve as a form of deterrence.

When Vice-PM Aso and over 160 Diet members recently visited Yasukuni, South Korea immediately cancelled a visit to Japan by its Foreign Minister, and subsequently made strong public/diplomatic protests. But this over-reaction only goes to show that South Korea still fears and recognizes the latent power/strength of Japan, i.e., South Korea's action should be recognized for what it really is.

The media keeps crying that the Yasukuni visits will damage Japan-China and/or Japan-Korea diplomatic relations. They also criticize the visits as "insensitive". But in the cold-reality realm of international politics, it does not pay to be a "yes man" or a "good boy" who tries to curry other countries' favor --- this is something China and South Korea themselves -- and the rest of the World -- know very well.



2013.4.24 03:16 [産経抄] 








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