Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is Japan sorry for World War 2?



Japan's militarist nationalists never really went away after World War 2, they just bided their time and waited for the day when they would be able to return to power. At last, they have done so; Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister, is the grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, an important WW2 nationalist whom the U.S. initially imprisoned for war crimes, and later let out (probably to fight against Communism), and who himself because prime minister of Japan in the 50s. It's not clear whether Abe himself thinks his ancestors did anything wrong in the militarist era, but many of his political appointees clearly do not think so. Naoki Hyakuta, whom Abe appointed to the board of governors of Japan's public broadcaster, claims that Japan committed no atrocities in World War 2 and was acting to free Asia of Western colonialism. Another board member described the Japanese Emperor as "a living God".

The return of the rightists seems to lend credence to the claims of China and Korea that Japan as a country has not properly atoned for World War 2. If people who think Japan was on the side of good can gain national power, then the country as a whole must agree with them...right? Sure, Japan has made a litany of apologies for World War 2, and even offered some monetary reparations. But mustn't those have been pro forma gestures to appease the United States, rather than heartfelt expressions of regret?

Actually, I don't think this is the case. Japan's rightists have power now, but that seems due much more to Japan's dysfunctional political system than to any general militarist/nationalist sentiment among the Japanese people and elites.

To see this, look at the votes cast on the 1995 "Fusen Ketsugi" resolution. That resolution was an apology for World War 2. The text read:
The House of Representatives resolves as follows: 
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, this House offers its sincere condolences to those who fell in action and victims of wars and similar actions all over the world. 
Solemnly reflecting upon many instances of colonial rule and acts of aggression in the modern history of the world, and recognizing that Japan carried out those acts in the past, inflicting pain and suffering upon the peoples of other countries, especially in Asia, the Members of this House express a sense of deep remorse. 
We must transcend the differences over historical views of the past war and learn humbly the lessons of history so as to build a peaceful international society. 
This House expresses its resolve, under the banner of eternal peace enshrined in the Constitution of Japan, to join hands with other nations of the world and to pave the way to a future that allows all human beings to live together. 
This resolution was approved, but almost half of the members of the Diet abstained from voting! This means they didn't believe Japan should apologize, right?

Actually, no. A large number of the abstainers wanted an even stronger apology. From Wikipedia:
Out of 502 representatives, 251 participated in the final vote on the revised resolution, and 230 of them supported the resolution; 241 representatives abstained from voting; 70 absentees belonged in one of the three parties in the coalition cabinet that sponsored the resolution (Japan Socialist Party, Liberal Democratic Party, and New Party Sakigake). 
14 members of the Japanese Communist Party voted against the resolution because they wanted much stronger expressions in the resolution. 
50 members of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party did not participate because the expressions in the revised resolution were still too strong for them. 
14 members of the Japan Socialist Party did not participate because the expressions were not strong enough for them. 
141 members of New Frontier Party abstained from voting, some of whom wanted stronger expressions.
So if we total up those who voted against the bill with those who abstained because the apology was too strong for them, we get at least 71 out of 502 representatives, or 14%. Now, some of the New Frontier Party might also have believed that the apology was too strong, so let's conservatively assume that half of them, or 71/502, believed this; that brings the total percentage of Imperial apologists to 28%. 14% is not that big of a bloc, but 28% is a pretty substantial minority.

But either way, we see that a majority of Japanese politicians supported a World War 2 apology in 1995. Now, 1995 may have been an unusually liberal moment for Japan; perhaps the electorate voted for a less nationalist Diet than they would prefer?

Actually, polls suggest that the Japanese public is less nationalistic than its politicians. This supports the notion that it is Japan's dysfunctional political system, which is dominated by old political families, that keeps the thin flame of militarism/nationalism alive. At the elite level, there is a non-trivial minority of Japanese bluebloods who thought WW2 was the right thing to do. But they are definitely a minority, and their attitude is not shared by the Japanese public. (Caveat: Among young people, right-wing attitudes may have become more common in recent years.)

In other words, the Chinese and Korean perceptions of an unrepentant Japan are not very accurate. But Japan itself has a serious problem - it finds itself ruled by a right-wing fringe element. Unless Japanese people can shake off their traditional attitude of political powerlessness, apathy, and ennui, they will increasingly find their country being moved in a direction they don't like. Freedom ain't free, fellas.

54 comments:

  1. The Japanese should be sorry:

    The Japanese returned to the nurses who had been left sitting on the beach and ordered them to walk into the sea. All knew their fate as they entered the water in silence. The Japanese soldiers opened fire with a machine-gun.

    http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/drummond-irene-melville-10051

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    1. thetaste9:12 PM

      So should the US.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_mutilation_of_Japanese_war_dead

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  2. Two comments.

    1) It is clear that Abe's current popularity is overwhelmingly due to his expansionary economic policies, "Abenomics," which have in fact led to a noticeable acceleration of GDP growth.

    2) The old joke remains true, following on Voltaire's much-repeated wisecrack about the Holy Roman Empire, that the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan is neither liberal nor democratic nor a party.

    Barkley Rosser (all snowed in)

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  3. On/off topic: If we had not fought a desperate battle for survival with Germany, it never would have _occurred_ to us to bomb a single populated city in Japan.

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    1. I disagree. Given the Japanese habit of executing prisoners and what the Japanese had done in China (see Nanking) it was inevitable that the US would act to kill Japanese anywhere by any means. The Doolittle raid in April 1942 hit urban civilian Japanese targets.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LeonardGSiffleet.jpg

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    2. Oh yikes, Denis. Sorry, but no. "desperate battle for survival with Germany"? Are you kidding? Aside from sinking some subs, Germany never got near the US. It was defeated by the Soviets at Stalingrad and Kursk. We came in for the underbelly in North Africa to preserve UK's hold on Suez so they could still get to and from India, so important that they lost it in 1947, with D-Day basically a late show designed to make sure the Soviets did not pull an 1812 and get all the way to Paris.

      OTOH, we got in to the war after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and it was our victory against them at Midway in mid-1942 that turned the war around there, shortly after the Doolittle raids on Tokyo. They probably did not threaten our survival, but they were certainly attacking and conquering areas that were US colonies and territories, and even a bit the West Coast, which would have been much worse if Midway had gone the other way, or if all the fleet that was normally at Pearl had been there when it was attacked.

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    3. Actually, Japan was doomed the moment it attacked America. The contest was never even close. If we had lost Midway it might have delayed our victory by a year or so.

      http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm

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    4. Japan only took only 13% of our military resources. By 1945 it was no danger to anyone -- surrounded by water without natural resources, its only standout military quality being the willingness to do Custer's last stand over and over again. Whatever else, our "psychological" blind spot holds. :-)

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    5. Well, we did get nukes, which kind of tilted things. However, if the full fleet usually at Pearl had been there, and if we had failed to break the Japanese code, there would not even have been a Midway, and the Japanese certainly would have conquered Hawaii, possibly parts of Alaska, and Indonesia. Not so obvious the US would have "won," although Japan certainly was never going to threaten the existence of the US or would hav been able to invade the continental US. But they might have been able, if sufficiently diplomatically nimble, to have gained a peace that did not involve us conquering them and with them holding onto some of their conquests, including possibly Hawaii.

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    6. On Indonesia, they did conquer parts of it, but then were pushed back by such battles as Coral Sea. If our fleet at Pearl was done in, that would have probably gone the other way, and they could have fully conquered the then Dutch East Indies and been hard to dislodge.

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    7. The U.S. had 10 times Japan's GDP.

      When the war began, they had 10 aircraft carriers. 2 years later we had over 100 aircraft carriers.

      There is no possible way we would have lost to Japan unless our own government collapsed. Japan was utterly and completely doomed.

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    8. It is not a matter of the US "losing." It is a matter of stopping short of total victory. Clearly this would have depended on some political change in Japan, which probably would not have happened if they had done much better early in the war, but there is the matter of how long does one go on fighting. If by late 1942 the Japanese essentially controlled all of the Pacific or most of it, even with a GDP edge, it would be much more difficult to retake all of that, and the planned invasion rendered unnecessary by the atomic bombing of Japanese cities might not have been achieved, particularly if the Japanese cut some deal at some point. The US would have gotten tired of war. It has happened since. Think Korea. After all, the US had way more GDP than China and North Korea and the USSR combined at the time of the Korean War, and that was a draw. Obviously this is all highly speculative with no definite answer, but I think you have not thought through what would have been the consequences of a successful knockout of the US fleet at Pearl, with a subsequent conquest of Hawaii without there even being a Battle of Midway, which would not have happened if the fleet at Pearl had been knocked out, which could have easily happened. It was basically a lucky fluke that it did not.

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    9. Well, I think it highly unlikely that America would have tired of war after Pearl Harbor. At Guadalcanal we lost a number of naval battles, including the loss of almost all of our carriers in the Pacific (only a damaged Enterprise remained), and there was no talk of letting up for even a moment.

      I just do not see a 10x advantage in GDP, a 10x advantage in aircraft carriers, a technological advantage in most areas, and a 2x advantage in manpower failing to carry the day in the end. It just seems utterly implausible to me.

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  4. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Fill in the blanks:

    But ______ itself has a serious problem - it finds itself ruled by a right-wing fringe element. Unless ____ people can shake off their traditional attitude of political powerlessness, apathy, and ennui, they will increasingly find their country being moved in a direction they don't like. Freedom ain't free, fellas.

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    1. I think that sentence fits Japan better than almost any other country on Earth. If you think Americans feel as politically powerless as the Japanese, you obviously do not know Japan. http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/shoganai

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  5. Anonymous3:49 PM

    "...and who himself because prime minister of Japan in the 50s."
    What?

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  6. Anonymous10:11 PM

    I guess Noah has absolutely no understanding of Japanese language, meaning he, as any monolingual anglophone does, assumes English-language information is everything.
    As such, this article missed the point.
    I refrain from pointing out any mistake or misunderstanding one by one because the whole of the article is totally, not partially, skewed.

    About America
    Is U.S. sorry for any one of its many wars it has fought since WW II?
    They killed tens of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians by atomic-bombing two Japanese cities in WW II.
    How about Vietnam and Iraq?
    America has never reflect on its past atrocities it committed outside its soil.

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    1. I guess Noah has absolutely no understanding of Japanese language, meaning he, as any monolingual anglophone does, assumes English-language information is everything.
      As such, this article missed the point.
      I refrain from pointing out any mistake or misunderstanding one by one because the whole of the article is totally, not partially, skewed.


      Thanks for derping by, moron.

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    2. In fact, A, most Americans now regret the Vietnam War. It is not viewed with any pride, even though there is an effort to respect those who died fighting it and the veterans who did so. But there are no celebrations about it or glorification of it by anybody. Likewise for the Iraq War, now generally viewed to have been a mistake.

      I have visited the Yasukuni Shrine and found the presentation of the war there to be highly absurd. Nobody else in the rest of the world remotely accepts the Japanese version of what happened in the war, and the current effort by the Abe government to make outright false claims and deny such historical facts as the Massacre of Nanjing, are both stupid and also nauseating. Most Americans are ashamed of My Lai in Vietnam, and there is no effort to deny it, or the horrors of Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

      What is going on now in Japan is very disturbing, and could cause trouble for the US if the Japanese leadership is so stupid that it gets into a war with China because we have a treaty with Japan to defend her. I agree with Noah that it would appear that these views are not shared by the majority of Japanese people, but maybe you are one of the ones who really thinks that what went on in Nanjing was just normal wartime activities and that everybody had comfort women.

      BTW, I am among the many Americans who thinks that is shameful that the atomic bomb was used on Japan, although in fact the fire bombing of Tokyo was far bloodier.

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    3. Anonymous1:06 AM

      In fact, the vast majority of Japanese have regretted or will continue to regret the second world war. It is not viewed with any pride, even though a very tiny minority of people is making an effort to respect those who died fighting it and the veterans who did so.
      And the views of Yasukuni are not those of the Japanese public nor those of the Japanese state. Nobody else in the rest of the country remotely accepts the the shrine's version of what happened in the war.
      You defended American authorities using the views of "most Americans," while criticizing what you think a view of the Japanese public or government, a view that is in fact supported by less than 5 percent of the population.
      This is because you understand English only and have no literacy enough to recognize biases deeply ingrained in American or English-language journalism.

      As far as I know, America, as a state, has never officially apologized for atrocities, nor has it paid compensation. haha

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    4. In fact, the vast majority of Japanese have regretted or will continue to regret the second world war. It is not viewed with any pride, even though a very tiny minority of people is making an effort to respect those who died fighting it and the veterans who did so.
      And the views of Yasukuni are not those of the Japanese public nor those of the Japanese state. Nobody else in the rest of the country remotely accepts the the shrine's version of what happened in the war.


      This seems basically correct, from what I've seen, and in fact this was the point of this post. Though 5% is probably too low - I'd say more like 15%.

      This is because you understand English only

      Why do you think I can't read Japanese?

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  7. PropagandaBuster12:22 AM

    Is United States sorry for the War?

    Nanking "Massacare" is a Communists' and Your propaganda to cover up YOUR MASSACARE of the Japanese civillians.

    4 days after the fall of Nanking, 1937
    http://www.youtube.com/watchv=AIr3OVOGrwk&list=PL_NCaqZzA8M6EsxP8QPqAXCOPR7IcljH7

    Were Japanese supposed to be slaughtering and raping the civillians afther the fall?
    Where were they???? Why were there 200,000 civillians in the International Safety Zone, its population increased to 250,000 soon after. Why did people come back to the "slaughtering field"?

    Have you read the proceedings of the Tokyo Trial?

    Also "remeber Pearl Harbour" was one of US propagands.
    US decoded the Japanese codes before the attack and FDR, of course, knew about it.
    Didn't you know about this historical fact??????

    And more, have you read VENONA file which released in 1995?
    There are about 300 communists in YOUR government in 1945.

    Here you are,

    http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/declass/venona/

    The U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service, the precursor to the National Security Agency, began a secret program in February 1943 later codenamed VENONA. The mission of this small program was to examine and exploit Soviet diplomatic communications but after the program began, the message traffic included espionage efforts as well.

    Although it took almost two years before American cryptologists were able to break the KGB encryption, the information gained through these transactions provided U.S. leadership insight into Soviet intentions and treasonous activities of government employees until the program was canceled in 1980.

    The VENONA files are most famous for exposing Julius (code named LIBERAL) and Ethel Rosenberg and help give indisputable evidence of their involvement with the Soviet spy ring.

    The first of six public releases of translated VENONA messages was made in July 1995 and included 49 messages about the Soviets' efforts to gain information on the U.S. atomic bomb research and the Manhattan Project. Over the course of five more releases, all of the approximately 3,000 VENONA translations were made public.

    The enermy is not Japan, it's COMMUNISM, communists in your government, in your congress and in media.

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    1. As a Japanese, I would like to stop your persistent Japan apologism on the behalf of Japan, thanks. You're not actually doing Japan any favor. But if you really are the real so-called "Texas daddy", then I'm sure that the money you receive from the right-wingers is quite good.

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    2. OMG COMMUNISM, HELP HELP THE COMMIES ARE COMING :P

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    3. Fumiko11:47 AM

      To Johnny,

      I'm not "Texas Daddy". I am just a Japanese mom hate propagandas.
      If you want to talk to him, go to his FB or youtube account pls.

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    4. Fumiko11:53 AM

      Noah Smith

      They are not comming, Commies are in your government under the name of the liberals.

      Killing civillians is a war crime.

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    5. I am just a Japanese mom

      I call BS. You're a bored 15-year-old kid from southern California.

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    6. Well, I did notice that you use way too many question marks in your stupid posts. So maybe you're actually a 15-year-old 2ch troll.

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  8. The problem isn't that Japanese don't apologize but that there are disputes about historical facts, "Nanking massacre " is exaggerated but it is a historical fact that Japanese Army invaded China. However, they didn't kidnap "sex slaves" from Korea. The controversy was emphasized by Koreans.

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    1. Holy crap, it's Ikeda Nobuo (池田信夫), the comfort women denying economics professor from Japan! (If that's really him)

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    2. Anonymous1:38 AM

      The Japanese economist is right.
      In fact, the problem is not whether the Japanese is sorry, but exactly that there are conflicting views in the recognition of history between Japan, and China and South Korea over such issues as the Nanjing Massacre and so-called comfort women.
      Academically, however, the consensus views of these issues have been established that do not support those of China or South Korea.
      As for the Nanjing Massacre issue, for example, unfortunately, almost all Americans, who are opportunistic, understand it in the wrong way. The point is not whether there is a massacre or not, but the size of one. No sane person in and outside Japan disputes the existence of large-scale killings in Nanjing. According to some estimates, the number of deaths were put at an exaggerated 300,000, but the actual number is widely seen, among "normal" historians of many countries, at between 40,000 and 100,000.

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    3. Anonymous is basically correct about the Nanking Massacre death toll estimates. Academic estimates range from 40,000 to "upwards of 100,000".

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estimates_of_the_death_toll_for_the_Nanking_Massacre

      However, about the "comfort women", Nobuo's point is that forcible abduction was carried out by private contractors, not by the military itself. In Japan, this may be an important distinction, but Americans tend not to see a meaningful difference. Dutch women have testified about being forcibly abducted into sex slavery, and there is little reason to doubt their accounts.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. The Japanese government itself has admitted that it employed a comfort women system in the past.

      "The comfort women system was conceived, planned and supervised by the Supreme Headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Forces and the Japanese Government in Tokyo. Orders, authorizations and permissions for various actions in relation to the comfort women were directed by the authorities from Japan. In many cases, the women were transported in Japanese ships which are considered Japanese territory. The recruitment, enslavement, transport, treatment and supervision of many of the women was directed by personnel of the Japanese Imperial Forces and/or those instructed by them. These personnel were under the jurisdiction of the Japanese Empire.

      Many of the abductees were juveniles when they were taken to become comfort women. Japan has acknowledged that almost all of the women were taken by deception or coercion. The obligations for punishment continue to bind the current Japanese Government."

      http://www.japanfocus.org/-Totsuka-Etsuro/3885

      So no, the economist is wrong.

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  9. I would generally agree with this. It is mostly a political problem. The right-wingers and far-right are just filling the void when the LDP was destroyed by DJP.

    But it's also true that there are a crap-load of historical revisionists who plain deny that Japan did any wrong (probably mostly middle-aged men in their 40s), at least on the Internet. The far-right Tokyo governmental candidate has managed to garner 600,000 votes.

    Anyway, I don't know what to do with all this mess. Nationalism sentiments in Japan are seemingly rising, anti-China and Korea rhetoric books and articles that border on racism are popping up everywhere these days. Opinions that deny that Japan did anything wrong are no longer on the fringe. I'm not sure if that's because people are suddenly becoming more nationalistic, or somebody else is just pulling the strings. I'm inclined to think that it's the latter.

    Anyhoo, Japan does need to clean up its political system. Left-wingers need to take over more power from the right. But the left aren't even trying, and the people are as uninterested in politics as ever (more than 70% of the people in their 20s didn't vote for the Tokyo election).

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  10. German kids learn the same history of WWII as French kids and English kids. There's a shared understanding. But in the far east, there seem to be competing histories of WWII. No wonder there is unresolved tension.

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    1. I might be talking out of my ass here, but I have a feeling that the European theater of World War II is a bit of an outlier when it comes to the historical revisionism of conflict. My guess would be that World War I or The War of 1870 are, if not taught wholly differently, at least presented in a different light depending on whether you're learning about them in Germany or France. It probably doesn't rise to the levels seen in this instance though.

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  11. Anonymous2:29 AM

    I feel, Japan's imperial and military elite learned a lesson of humility and morality, but I don't feel guilt or shame personally for the actions of a criminal wartime imperial regime. The world can learn many lessons from imperial Japanese occupation - 1)don't try and build an empire to mimick the British conquest. 2) a country led by a king, emperor or pope is bound to suffer the same fate as all empires come and gone. 3) the descendants of a defeated nation should not be held responsible, accountable, or be patronized for their nation's imperialist regime. 4) those who glamourize war or say the aggressor was not aggressive should be ashamed of themselves and their delusions. The whole nation of Japan was not the aggressor, a select few who controlled the military and were imperial members, as well as those who followed through with their commands are guilty.

    We know the emperor of the time got away with a slap on the hand. He should have accepted full responsibility and tried as a criminal and executed. Instead, scapegoats and puppets were tried, some taking the fall for the emperor and his elite confidants.

    While war criminals never should be reveered, some enshrined at Yasukuni certainly deserve prayers for their poor souls.

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    1. Wow, a sane comment! Thank you, whoever you are. :D

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    2. If the world can learn anything from Japan, then it's that a government without a check on the military can go out of control and start walking independently on its own.

      There's no way that the Japan's elite learned a lesson of "humility and morality", because they're still doing pretty much the same thing, except that they're not using military might - they're focusing on economic growth - at the expense of the people.

      The Emperor had absolute power in theory, but in reality he was powerless, so I don't think that he was responsible for the war.

      >While war criminals never should be reveered, some enshrined at Yasukuni certainly deserve prayers for their poor souls.

      The Yasukuni shrine is nothing but a right-wing propaganda site that glorifies Japanese war aggression. Its museum is all about how Japan warded off the evil Western imperialists while Japan freed Asia from them. It excuses every war atrocities that Japan committed. Besides not all Japanese are Shintoists. What's really needed is a more secular and official memorial site.

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    3. Johnny,

      I think it must be recognized that the vast majority of those honored at Yasukuni were not guilty of war crimes, although the extent to which people doing bad things because they were ordered to do so should be let off the hook remains one of those long-debated matters. But I would note that the shrine also honors those who fought in other conflicts besides the Pacific War, including the war with Russia, and so on, with many of these other conflicts not involving outright war crimes.

      Nevertheless, the shrine does also honor war criminals, and the historical account in the museum is clearly a right-wing nationalist fantasy. And given the current disputes over islands and so on with both ROK and PRC, it is simply stupid and obnoxious of a Japanese PM to visit the shrine in an official capacity.

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  12. Anonymous9:59 AM

    OMG Noah, have you ever heard of the Mishima Incident? Here is The Ward Nerd talking about it: http://exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=7993&IBLOCK_ID=35

    This paragraph killed me: "So here's the scene in the CO's office: we've got two heads on the floor, a really messy carpet they probably had to throw away, and a desk jockey General who was probably wondering if these wackos were going to add him to the pile of skulls or leave him alive to explain to his superiors how his base got seized by a gay novelist and his four boyfriends. That's a rock and a pretty durn hard place for a career officer."

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  13. Anonymous10:54 AM

    "Freedom ain't free, fellas."

    Damn straight! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDWSGmphgTs

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  14. As someone who is familiar with the Asia-Pacific region...your analysis of the situation is correct, Noah Smith. However, you seem to have neglected to mention another reason for why Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party got back into power - apart from the inability of the Democratic Party of Japan to competently rule, the majority of the Japanese people trust Shinzo Abe as a leader that would stand strong and tough in the face of the growing clout of the People's Republic of China.

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  15. Anonymous4:37 AM


    At last, they have done so; Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister, is the grandson of Nobusuke Kishi, an important WW2 nationalist whom the U.S. initially imprisoned for war crimes, and later let out (probably to fight against Communism), and who himself because prime minister of Japan in the 50s.


    I should have stayed awake in all those Manga classes.


    It's not clear whether Abe himself thinks his ancestors did anything wrong in the militarist era, but many of his political appointees clearly do not think so.


    One wonders whether losing and ending up culturally and militarily dominated was high on their list of objectives at the time.


    Naoki Hyakuta, whom Abe appointed to the board of governors of Japan's public broadcaster, claims that Japan committed no atrocities in World War 2 and was acting to free Asia of Western colonialism.


    No wonder they are embracing Keynesian economics. Protecting the world from Western culture by demonstrating what can go wrong.

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  16. Anonymous4:39 AM

    The return of the rightists seems to lend credence to the claims of China and Korea that Japan as a country has not properly atoned for World War 2.

    Communism killed a lot more Chinese than the Emperor ever did.

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    1. Yeah but the people doing the killing were Chinese too! That makes it OK. :P

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    2. Not to mention that it was the Japanese Imperial army that made it possible for the Communists to take over China. If it weren't for Japan, then China might not have been a Communist nation.

      I think that many Japanese don't understand the kind of scale that the Japanese Empire had on changing the destiny of Asia. They simply brush it off as it's not something that should be paid much attention to, and hope that the rest of the world will forget it soon. They won't, especially with China rising.

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  17. Japanese regrets about WWII have nothing to do with the current state of affairs. The Chinese Communist Party needs an external enemy for its own internal political purposes. It needs to make a show of expanding Chinese power for its own internal political purposes. That's all that's happening, folks.

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    1. This seems correct to me!

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    2. Anonymous7:29 AM

      If so, then why is there a similar anger amongst the South Korean population? If this is entirely due to the machinations of the CCP, surely the South Koreans, who would be similarly encroached upon by expanding Chinese power, would rally to the Japanese side and defend the Japanese as having already atoned. Instead, South Korean outrage over things like Abe's visit to Yasukuni have matched China's.

      Don't get me wrong, the CCP is certainly encouraging and exploiting the resentment for its own purposes, but that resentment would still be there without it. Japan's (lack of sufficient) regret has a lot to do with the situation. There are real indications that Japan does not fully recognize the full extent of its crimes; after all, Germany has its holocaust museums and memorials to remind itself - does Japan have similar memorials to its victims, or just the memorials to the perpetrators?

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    3. I think an even more interesting question is, why are people in Taiwan and Southeast Asia not angry about the Yasukuni visits?

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    4. They are angry... or at least, they are not comfortable with it. They're just not expressing their views because that would damage their relations with Japan.

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  18. Anonymous2:21 PM

    @Noah Smith:

    First, as Johnny pointed out, they are angry, just not as publicly as China and South Korea are. Second, you are trying to shift attention without addressing the issue. The issue is that you (by proxy) claimed that Japanese regrets or lack thereof had "nothing to do with the current state of affairs". This is plainly false, as South Korea, which has a clear vested interest to stand against China's attempt to expand its own regional power, refuses to let the matter slide even with this strategic logic. The fact that Taiwan clearly feels anger but suppresses it for political reasons does nothing to save your "China is behind all the anger" position.

    Imagine a similar situation, where a rising Russia begins to prod Germany. Would France and Poland hesitate in the slightest to side with the Germans? Of course not! The general feeling in Europe is that Germany learned the lessons of WWII while the general feeling in Asia is that Japan didn't; this difference is a clear result of how Germany and Japan differ in their treatment of the history.

    I am not against a memorial to Japan's war dead, but to include Class A war criminals and to pair the memorial with a museum glorifying Japan's brutal occupation of its neighbors (and then to have top officials visit at sensitive moments) will obviously damage relations and stir up anger, regardless of the CCP's actions. Why is it so hard for you to see that?

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