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  • BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 30th, 2013

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    Hi Blog.  You have to hand it to zealots in political power for their singlemindedness and clarity of message.  The extreme-right leaders of the LDP are pursuing their agenda with messianistic fervor from both above and below, opening booths and putting in Prime Ministerial appearances at online geek festivals, and even enlisting the Emperor to push an overtly politicized agenda of historical revisionism.  Consider these news items:

    ////////////////////////////////////
    Japan marks ‘return of sovereignty’ day
    BBC News, 28 April 2013, Courtesy of JK
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22330635

    emperorjapansovereigntyday
    Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko gave added weight to the event

    Japan has for the first time marked the anniversary of the end of the allied occupation, which followed its defeat in World War II.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the “restoration of sovereignty day” would give Japan hope for the future and help it become “strong and resolute”.

    The event is seen as part of Mr Abe’s nationalist campaign.

    He is also pushing for a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease tight restrictions on the armed forces.

    It was during last year’s election campaign that Mr Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) proposed the event to mark the day in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, formally ending WWII and the allied occupation.

    “I want to make this a day when we can renew our sense of hope and determination for the future,” the 58-year-old said in front of officials gathered in Tokyo.

    “We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on,” he said.

    Protests
    It was the latest in a series of events and remarks that have angered Japan’s Asian neighbours.

    Mr Abe infuriated China and South Korea when he suggested he may no longer stand by the wording of an apology issued in 1995 for Japan’s war-time aggression, saying the definition of “aggression” was hard to establish.

    China also strongly objected to the visits by several cabinet members and 170 MPs this month to the Yasukuni war shrine, which is seen as a symbol of Japan’s imperialistic aggression.

    Sunday’s ceremony was also controversial with some Japanese. Thousands of people on the southern island of Okinawa took to the streets to denounce the event as a betrayal.

    Okinawa was invaded by US marines in 1945 and was not returned to Japan until 1972.

    Nearly three-quarters of US troops stationed in Japan under a bilateral treaty are based in Okinawa.

    ENDS

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Right-wing Yomiuri’s less critical and more maudlin take on the event:

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan in Depth / Rethinking Japan’s sovereignty
    The Yomiuri Shimbun April 30, 2013 Courtesy of JK
    By Yuichi Suzuki and Tetsuya Ennyu / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
    http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000176268

    Same photo as above’s caption:  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, sends off the Emperor and Empress after a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty held Sunday at Kensei Kinenkan hall in Tokyo.

    In hosting a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty after its defeat in World War II, the government apparently aimed at encouraging the people to deepen their perceptions of national sovereignty.

    Also behind the government’s decision to sponsor the ceremony is the perceived threat to the nation’s sovereignty, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pursuit of constitutional revision, observers said.

    The ceremony was held Sunday in Tokyo to mark the 61st anniversary of the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty on April 28, 1952, which ended the postwar Occupation of Japan by Allied forces.

    After speeches by Abe, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the House of Councillors, the Suginami Junior Chorus performed, easing the atmosphere with clear singing voices.

    The chorus sang such popular songs as “Te no hira o taiyo ni” (Palms in the sun) and “Tsubasa o kudasai” (Please give me wings), as well as “Asu to iu hi ga” (The day called tomorrow), a song in support of people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

    These songs, which the emcee described as being full of hope for the future, were performed because the government deliberately staged the event to foster a future-oriented atmosphere, taking into account criticism it had received that holding such a ceremony is indicative of a reactionary and rightist inclination.

    It was Takeshi Noda, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, who called on Abe and others to organize such a ceremony.

    Noda began suggesting the idea about a decade ago. He believes it is necessary to give the people an opportunity to ponder why the nation lost its sovereignty by considering as a set the April 28 anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, the day the nation announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. He calls the Aug. 15 anniversary “the day of humiliation for losing [the nation's] sovereignty.”

    Efforts made by Noda and his followers bore fruit when the LDP, then an opposition party, held a people’s forum to mark the sovereignty restoration anniversary on April 28 last year at its party headquarters.

    Abe, who was not the party leader at the time, delivered a video message, saying: “[The nation's] failure to thoroughly review the Occupation period right after sovereignty was restored has left serious problems. The next [task for us] is [to revise] the Constitution.”

    Event reflects Abe’s intent

    Holding the government-sponsored ceremony was mentioned in the so-called J-File, in which the LDP explained in detail its manifesto for the House of Representatives election last year and its plan to hold ceremonies on National Founding Day on Feb. 11, and Takeshima Day on Feb. 22.

    Of the three, however, only the sovereignty ceremony has been realized so far.

    The prevailing view is that Abe’s strong intention to amend the Constitution had much to do with the event.

    During recent interviews and on other occasions, Abe has repeatedly emphasized that “When the Constitution was enacted, Japan had yet to become independent…The Constitution was, as one might put it, created by the occupation forces. We haven’t made any constitution on our own.”

    Abe’s strong desire to establish the nation’s own constitution was seen to have coincided with the holding of the ceremony.

    During the ceremony, lower house Speaker Bunmei Ibuki said: “What does the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty mean? The most important thing is that the people have the right to decide the law and the systems within their own territory.”

    Yet the nation’s territory and sovereign power have been threatened daily.

    China’s maritime surveillance ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. Meanwhile, the Takeshima islands have been illegally occupied by South Korea, and Russia has been intensifying its effective control over the northern territories off Hokkaido.

    The current situation, in which the nation’s sovereignty is in unprecedented danger, also appears to have fueled Abe’s desire to hold the latest ceremony.

    As for the future of the recent ceremony, Abe has not made his intention clear.

    “This is not the kind of the event that is to be held every year,” he said.

    The attendance of the Emperor and the Empress at the ceremony was included in the decision the Cabinet made March 12 to hold the ceremony. It seems the Imperial couple attended as part of their official duties at the request of the Cabinet, with whom final responsibility for the ceremony lies.

    According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Cabinet briefed the agency on the purpose of the ceremony. On the basis of the Cabinet’s explanation, the agency requested the attendance of the Imperial couple at the ceremony.

    Festive mood toned down

    “Especially noteworthy is the fact that Okinawa Prefecture, which experienced heavy casualties in cruel infantry battles, remained outside of Japan’s control for the longest period,” Abe said in his speech, referring to the fact that Okinawa Prefecture remained under U.S. administration 20 years after Japan regained its sovereignty.

    Abe called for the people to deeply respect the hardships the Okinawan people endured during and after the war.

    Okinawa Prefecture was separated from Japan when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect on April 28, 1952. As U.S. forces continued to expropriate land and construct bases in Okinawa Prefecture long after that time, some Okinawans regard April 28 as a “day of humiliation.”

    However, it cannot be certain that the prime minister and those around him were fully aware of the backlash and mixed feelings of Okinawans regarding the ceremony.

    Abe expressed his intent to hold the ceremony at the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on March 7, but made no mention of Okinawa at the time. A government official said Abe’s “snub” incited mistrust and anger among residents of Okinawa Prefecture.

    However, in his responses to questions in the Diet and other occasions, Abe said, “If Japan had not restored its independence, negotiations [for the reversion of Okinawa to Japan] would have been impossible.”

    The ceremony was shortened to 40 minutes from the initially planed 60 minutes, as festive programs were cut shortly before the ceremony.

    “Decorations for the ceremony were toned down to the absolute minimum,” said a government official.

    After the ceremony, Okinawa Vice Gov. Kurayoshi Takara, who was in attendance, told the press: “[Abe] paid consideration to the problems of Okinawa Prefecture. I accepted his speech.” However, he added, “I can empathize with those who assembled in Ginowan in protest of the ceremony.”
    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Then we get to an even bigger surprise than this:  The PM finding the time to put in an appearance at a local geek festival, sponsored by Internet snakepit of bullies and right-winger refuge 2-Channel’s corporate body, Niconico Douga a few days ago!

     

    avwatchniconicodouga2043013

     

    All screen captures from http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/20130430_597889.html.  Article courtesy of JJS, who comments:

    Wanted to point your attention to this as it seems like one of those things that will be passed up, glossed over, or completely go unseen by most people.  I guess NicoNico video held some type of “Big Conference” called 「ニコニコ超会議2」. It appears at first to be some gathering for tech-heads and geek culture of all kinds. But scroll down a bit to the section 自衛隊や在日米軍、各政党も参加 and you’ll see that Abe came to participate…essentially campaigning at the event. Nico Nico played a big role in one of the debates he proposed be put online, live. But to outright be campaigning at this event seems out of the norm and certainly a bending of the rules. Even more disturbing is the show of military hardware with tie-ins to cute “moe” characters, etc. There is something rotten in Nagatacho and it all seems to be going “according to plan.”

    Thanks.  Here’s the screen capture outlining the details of the event.

    avwatchniconicodouga043013

     

    It even talks about the “movement on Japan’s Internet”, which manga/geek fan and rejuvenated political zombie Aso Taro (currently in the Abe Cabinet as the Deputy PM) no doubt appreciates.  Given how there is even a word nowadays coined to describe the bullying tactics of the Internet Rightists (Netto Uyoku, or Neto-uyo), a sympathetic hearing was no doubt granted by this swarm of birds of a feather).

    And in case you were wondering if these geeks were just hikikomori types more interested in using up their room’s inventory of kleenex than thinking militaristic thoughts, consider this screen capture from the event:

    avwatchniconicodouga3033013

    This ain’t something harmless like the KISS Army, folks.  It’s the “Kiss our collective asses, world!” army being summoned through the LDP’s messages melding nationalism, militarism, and naked political ambition.  Something wicked is not only this way coming, it is already here.  If the LDP gets its way and converts this tone of agenda into real public policy, Japan is heading for remilitarization all over again.  Arudou Debito

    46 Responses to “BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival”

    1. j_jobseeker Says:

      Just to add fuel to the fire…

      http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/news/130424/plc13042414280009-n1.htm

      靖国参拝批判に首相「わが閣僚はどんな脅かしにも屈しない」
      2013.4.24 14:27 産經新聞

      参院予算委員会で答弁する安倍晋三首相=24日午後、国会・参院第1委員会室(酒巻俊介撮影)

       安倍晋三首相は24日の参院予算委員会で、安倍内閣の閣僚らの靖国神社参拝に中国や韓国が反発していることに関し「国のために尊い命を落とした英霊に尊崇の念を表するのは当たり前だ。わが閣僚はどんな脅かしにも屈しない。その自由は確保している。当然だろう」と述べた。

       首相は韓国が反発していることに「靖国の抗議を始めたのは盧武鉉(政権)時代が顕著になったが、それ以前はほとんどない。なぜ急に態度が変わったかも調べる必要がある」と強調。

       中国に対しても「A級戦犯が合祀(ごうし)されたとき、時の首相の参拝に抗議せず、ある日突然抗議をしはじめた」と不快感を示した。

       また「歴史や伝統の上に立った私たちの誇りを守ることも私の仕事だ。それを削れば(中国や韓国との)関係がうまくいくとの考えは間違っている」とも語った。

       靖国神社を参拝した麻生太郎副総理は「世界中で、祖国のために尊い命を投げ出した人たちに対し、政府が最高の栄誉をもって敬することを禁じている国はない」と指摘。古屋圭司国家公安委員長は「国のために命をささげた英霊に哀悼の誠をささげるのは当然だ」と述べた。
      ENDS

    2. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Just a couple of thoughts….

      Since this is more showboating from Sick-note to ensure he gets the right-wing vote for the upcoming upper house elections that he needs to change the constitution (an election where he may yet face a back-lash from farmers if they become alarmed by any news on TPP), it would seem that this is a de-facto political event, and therefore the constitution as is should preclude the emperor from attending, shouldn’t it? But (as debito.org recently blogged) sick-note is a member of a group whose goals include returning the emperor to head of state status. Well on the way with that one too, then, it appears.

      Sick-note says; “We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on.” Who, may I ask, does he think these ‘others across the world’ are? Please, don’t bother on my account.

      And as for this paragraph;

      ‘[Noda] believes it is necessary to give the people an opportunity to ponder why the nation lost its sovereignty by considering as a set the April 28 anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, the day the nation announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. He calls the Aug. 15 anniversary “the day of humiliation for losing [the nation's] sovereignty.”’.

      The people need a chance to ponder why Japan lost it’s sovereignty? Maybe that’s because they don’t get taught history properly at school, in any event, it’s because Japan lost a war of aggression! However, since Sick-note and his ilk don’t seem to comprehend the word aggression, it’s no wonder that it has come to this sorry state.

      And ‘a day of humiliation for losing sovereignty’ is a bit of a straw man really, after all, the choice was loss of sovereignty or nuclear carpet bombing/starvation by blockade, I think the present generation should be glad that occupation was an option, as opposed to the way Japan ‘occupied’ other asian countries in the war; Japan got off very light indeed. If that occupation was so humiliating, why can’t the J-politicians empathize with Korean and Chinese hard feeling about they way they suffered at the hands of the Japanese Army, and why can’t right-wingers on the net stop telling them to ‘get over it’? Japan suffered no atrocities during it’s occupation, yet still feels the need to dredge it back up? Forward looking much?

      It’s a typical case of collective amnesia by consent combined with victim complex on Japan’s part, which in turn is compounded by the ‘Japan as center of the world’ narrow-mindedness. that prevents them from seeing how deeply offensive this attitude is to Japan’s victims.

      Still, look on the bright side! If Sick-note gets his way, the net uyoku will all end up getting conscripted to go and die for some pointless rocks, Japan won’t be able to ship any exports or get any imports, and the apologists will all get put behind barbed wire by the ‘shin-kempeitai’ (maybe even used for ‘medical experiments’). And when any war that Japan starts with China is over, the Chinese won’t bother invading and rebuilding like the US did because Japan hasn’t got anything worth invading for.

    3. Al Says:

      Funny how nationalism always equates to building up your military and fighting wars. We’re living in a new era now, where war will actually destroy your economy, not build it up like it did centuries ago. You just can’t build an economy by going out and killing people anymore. If these people had any sense, they’d be trying to overhaul their outdated education system, legal system, and such. They’d be putting serious thought into why their graduates can’t innovate and can’t compete. But nope, let’s build up the military with the little money we have, because you know um… the military will create the next Google or find that cure for cancer and thus propel us into a bright future. Er yeah, that’s how countries like North Korea think, and look where they’re at.

      I’m starving and homeless, and my kids have no future, but I’m sure glad we bought those new tanks! Heheh. Maybe “nationalism” could actually mean wanting to see your country economically strong, rather than militarily strong. Gee what a thought!

    4. Jim di Griz Says:

      @ Al #3

      I agree with your comment, but I see this right- wing swing as Japanese leaders attempting to grasp at the ‘third straw’ of power in international relations terms, having failed to grasp the first, namely political power, and having lost their grip on the second- economic power. The cupboard is bare, the only way they think they can act on the international stage is by threat of the use of force. Gee, isn’t that what N. Korea is doing? Japan=rogue state?

    5. Baudrillard Says:

      Apart from stating the obvious, which is this is all about the branding and re-branding of Japan as a “real”country”, this nationalism is akin to that commented on by writers in Time Magazine at the time of both Columbine and the Yugoslav wars (will post better references once I recall them), that it

      “empowers weak individuals in membership of a group” and that it’s logical conclusion is “death…”

      – Not quite sure I follow…

    6. Doug Says:

      This is all an interesting discussion, however in the end this begs the question

      – Who should write Japan’s Constitution? and
      – Who should be responsible for the defense of Japan?

      I believe Japan as a sovereign nation should do both. I do not think that the unhealthy relationship Japan has had/has with the United States does not do much for the way Japan views foreigners.

      If holding these views alone makes me an aplogist I find that to be a bit over the top. Finally a bit of reflection on why Japan lost much of its sovereignty would be a good thing; How this would be carried out however remains to be seen.

    7. dude Says:

      Al – you bring up an interesting issue: Why does Japan keep reverting to nationalism? Why is the answer to all problems (in Japan) nationalism/blame the foreigner/grow the military?

      We – as individuals, and as nations – have personalities (for lack of a better term). Japan’s ‘personality’ rejects immigration, foreigners, equal rights/human rights, laws against discrimination, (etc.), but embraces nationalism, military build-up, and reverence for the emperor. This is a pattern that Japan keeps repeating. I don’t have the answers – just questions, and observations.

      What will it take for Japan to break this habit? An intervention? “friends don’t let friends colonize their neighbors?”

      – An intervention was tried. It lasted a couple of generations, but the root causes for a relapse (e.g., education reform, a standing military in all but name, bureaucratic fiat and discretion in place of rule of law and legislative process, a media that better investigates The State, a judiciary that is more independent of State control, a policing regime that cannot enforce torture and innocent before proven guilty…) were not in the end fixed.

    8. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Al #3

      In addition, I also agree with your comments;
      ‘If these people had any sense, they’d be trying to overhaul their outdated education system, legal system, and such.’

      Japanese leaders (and voters, so it seems) are stuck in a kind of ‘feedback loop’, where the only self-validation they can get is from harping on about the war. Considering economic relations with the neighbors, it’s counter-productive to improving Japan in any meaningful way. I suspect that in the same way the edo-jidai was evoked (eg; samurai spirit/kamikaze) during Meiji-era to Showa-era militarism as a symbol of pre-western ‘untainted’ Japan, this current effort is evoking the ’30′s spirit, ersatz though it was. There is nothing forward looking about that (to head of apologists at the pass, Thatcher used pretty much the same trick in the ’80′s; she took Chruchill’s narrative of British history that he created to foster anti-nazi British nationalism at the outbreak of the war as fact, and re-sold it to the British voting public).

      Japanese leaders should be forging ahead with the massive structural changes needed to make it’s education and employment relevant in the 21st century, maybe then they can think about ‘world-class’ institutions that they so desperately hunger for. While they are at it, they can improve quality of life, and encourage people to have aspirations greater than ‘working for a big company’, and even, god-forbid, entrepreneurship growing out of peoples freedom to explore self development and self-fulfillment.

      This will never happen here though, because the media is house-broken, there is a paranoid stifling of social discourse as ‘anti-Japanese’, and the leaders are all invested in systems of control that require the Japanese to shut up, buckle-down, never complain, because ‘we’ are Japanese. Some Japanese are more ‘Japanese’ than others, so it seems.

    9. Paul Says:

      Well, this would be a very heavy straw that would snap my back right away. I like Japan enough that staying indefinitely was the plan, but not if this happened.

      http://ca.news.yahoo.com/japan-pms-stealth-constitution-plan-raises-civil-rights-004223548.html

      Those pesky civil rights, they’re against Japanese unique culture!

      Japan PM’s ‘stealth’ constitution plan raises civil rights fears
      By Linda Sieg | Reuters – May 2, 2013

      TOKYO (Reuters) – Shinzo Abe makes no secret of wanting to revise Japan’s constitution, which was drafted by the United States after World War Two, to formalize the country’s right to have a military – but critics say his plans go deeper and could return Japan to its socially conservative, authoritarian past.
      Abe, 58, returned to office in December for a second term as prime minister and is enjoying sky-high support on the back of his “Abenomics” recipe for reviving the economy through hyper-easy monetary policy, big spending and structural reform.
      Now he is seeking to lower the hurdle for revising the constitution as a prelude to an historic change to its pacifist Article 9 – which, if strictly read, bans any military. That would be a symbolic shift, loosening restrictions on the military’s overseas activities, but would have limited impact on defense as the clause has already been stretched to allow Tokyo to build up armed forces that are now bigger than Britain’s.
      However, sweeping changes proposed by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in a draft constitution would strike at the heart of the charter with an assault on basic civil rights that could muzzle the media, undermine gender equality and generally open the door to an authoritarian state, activists and scholars say.

      RESTRICTIONS, RESTRAINTS
      “What I find strange is that although the prime minister is not that old, he is trying to revive the mores of his grandfather’s era,” said Ryo Motoo, the octogenarian head of the Women’s Article 9 Association, a group devoted to protecting the constitution.
      “I fear this might lead to a society full of restrictions, one that does not recognize diversity of opinions and puts restraints on the freedom of speech as in the past.”
      Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was a pre-World War Two cabinet minister who was arrested but never tried as a war criminal. Kishi served as premier from 1957-60, when he resigned due to a furor over a U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.
      Riding high in the opinion polls and buoyed by big stock market gains, Abe has grown more outspoken about his conservative agenda, including revising the constitution and being less apologetic about Japan’s wartime past – a stance that has frayed already tense relations with China and South Korea, where memories of Tokyo’s past militarism run deep.
      Many Japanese conservatives see the constitution, unchanged since its adoption in 1947 during the U.S.-led Allied Occupation, as an embodiment of Western-style, individualistic mores they believe eroded Japan’s group-oriented traditions.

      RIGHTS VS DUTIES
      Critics see Abe’s plan to ease requirements for revising the charter and then seek to change Article 9 as a “stealth” strategy that keeps his deeper aims off the public radar.
      “The real concern is that a couple of years later, we move to a redefinition of a ‘new Japan’ as an authoritarian, nationalist order,” said Yale University law professor Bruce Ackerman.
      The LDP draft, approved by the party last year, would negate the basic concept of universal human rights, which Japanese conservatives argue is a Western notion ill-suited to Japan’s traditional culture and values, constitutional scholars say.
      “The current constitution … provides protection for a long list of fundamental rights – freedom of expression, freedom of religion,” said Meiji University professor Lawrence Repeta. “It’s clear the leaders of the LDP and certain other politicians in Japan … are passionately against a system that protects individual rights to that degree.”
      The draft deletes a guarantee of basic human rights and prescribes duties, such as submission to an undefined “public interest and public order”. The military would be empowered to maintain that “public order.”
      One proposal would ban anyone from “improperly” acquiring or using information about individuals – a clause experts say could limit freedom of speech. A reference to respect for the “family” as the basic social unit hints, say critics, at a revival of a patriarchal system that gave women few rights.
      “The constitution is there to tie the hands of government, not put duties on the people,” said Taro Kono, an LDP lawmaker often at odds with his party on policies. “There are some in both houses (of parliament) who don’t really understand the role of a modern constitution.”

      WRITTEN BY HUMANS
      Abe and the LDP say easing the revision procedures would allow voters a bigger say in whether to alter the charter.
      “The constitution is not something given by God, it was written by human beings. It should not be frightening to change it so I’d like the people to consider trying it once,” Yosuke Isozaki, an aide to Abe, told the Nikkei business daily.
      An Asahi newspaper survey published on Thursday showed 54 percent of voters were against easing the procedures compared to 38 percent in favor. Fifty-two percent backed revising Article 9 while 39 percent were opposed.
      Under Article 96, changes to the constitution must be approved by at least two-thirds of both houses of parliament and then a majority of voters in a national referendum. Abe wants to require a simple majority of lawmakers before a public vote.
      With Abe’s popularity high and the main opposition splintered, the LDP and smaller pro-revision parties appear to have a shot at winning a two-thirds majority in an upper house election in July. They already hold two-thirds of the lower house.
      “It’s not as easy as it might appear,” said Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano. “But for the first time, it’s a realistic prospect.”
      Japan celebrates Constitution Day on Friday.
      ENDS

    10. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      “Well if we’re goning to change that pesky constitution, let’s get rid of constition memorial day and get back to work.”

    11. j_jobseeker Says:

      Thanks for that article Paul. Very eye opening and something that should be published in Japanese in Japan. As I have stated before, there is this sense that things are going according to plan. The Japanese public elected Abe and the LDP to fix the economy; if he did, I felt that they would let him do anything. Well, he and his industry cronies have certainly made it look like the economy is “fixing” itself—at least enough in the short term to win a majority in the Upper House. I think once he and the LDP accomplish that, their real agenda will begin. As this article states, with popularity & stock market numbers high, he’s becoming more emboldened. If the LDP win the kind of majority they have in the Lower House, there really won’t be anything anyone can do to stop them, politically speaking. That’s not alarmist talk. I seriously don’t think there could be any way the remaining parties (some of whom are also ultra-conservative) could ever mount a legitimate opposition. So, unless the stock market tanks or some major scandal directly aimed at Abe happens in the next month or two, Abe and the LDP might just get there way.

      And to slightly shift gears, as Doug mentions, there are aspects to the Japan/America relationship that have been detrimental to Japan and as a sovereign nation Japan does have a right to defend itself. However, I think what we’re seeing is not really about self-determination but as Jim Di Griz says is more about self-validation. There is a big difference. The idea of celebrating not the day Japan surrendered, but instead the day the Americans finally left is part of that whole Abe mentality of instilling (dare I say enforcing) patriotism in to the people. He did it with the Patriotism Score on school report cards and I think that’s all this really amounts to. Some day, the LDP might propose or change other holidays that celebrate events or people who have contributed to Japan’s “greatness” as a way to build a (false) sense of pride. If that sounds kind of familiar, it should. We see those kinds of holidays and celebrations in countries like North Korea, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, etc. I’m not suggesting that’s where things are or may go, but the similarities in intention—to exploit pride/patriotism as an externally sanctioned requirement which would breed out dissent—are there. Abe and his ilk, as the Reuter’s article suggests, could be dangerously skirting with returning Japan to the kind of authoritarian state from its past they see as being necessary. Or as Abe’s catch copy: “Nihon wo, tori modosu.” I think we may now know to where & when he’s “taking Japan back.”

    12. Chris Says:

      Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of all of this is the attempt to change the constitution to remove the rights of Japanese to western core freedoms. I know these rights have not always been enforced (understatement), but at least they were there in theory. Recently there has been a bit more coverage of this, but not nearly enough considering the magnitude of the proposed changes. They really are trying to get the changes made under the smokescreen of changes to article 9.
      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/abes-stealth-constitution-plan-raises-civil-rights-fears
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/04/18/editorials/ldp-out-to-undermine-constitution/#.UYM9yrUtQ5w
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Japan#2012_Draft

    13. Chris Says:

      PS Here are the original documents which layout the changes in Japanese the LDP under Abe is proposing to make:
      http://www.jimin.jp/policy/policy_topics/pdf/seisaku-109.pdf
      http://www.jimin.jp/policy/pamphlet/pdf/kenpou_qa.pdf

      Note: The explanation document (suspiciously) fails to explain why several of the freedoms are being removed or watered down.

    14. Flyjin Says:

      “The LDP draft, approved by the party last year, would negate the basic concept of universal human rights, which Japanese conservatives argue is a Western notion ill-suited to Japan’s traditional culture and values, constitutional scholars say.”

      This is really, really scary. I do not want to live in Japan again. Nor would any of the Japanese ex pats I know with any intelligence.

    15. Winning Gold at Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      >Why does Japan keep reverting to nationalism?

      Yes, I wonder. It has kept reverting to nationalism for many years now. Even during the occupation, when Japan was excited about its swimming stars doing well overseas, overseas observers worried about Japanese nationalism. When Kishi provoked leftists with a failed police law and treaty revision, Japan was reverting to nationalism. In the 1970s, when Alex Axelbank wrote “Black Star over Japan” and Herman Kahn wrote “The Emerging Japanese Superstate,” Japan was reverting to nationalism. When Sato negotiated for the return of Okinawa, he did so by appealing to nationalism. When Fukuda reestablished the Imperial calendar as an official method of describing dates, Japan was reverting to nationalism. When Nakasone Yasuhiro, as JDA chief, advocated raising the defense budget, Japan was reverting to nationalism. When Nakasone as prime minister went to Yasukuni, despite several PMs having done so before, and despite the fact that overseas observers had never complained, and despite the fact that Nakasone stopped when China complained and also had famously raucous drinking sessions with his South Korean counterpart, Japan was reverting to nationalism. When Kenneth Pyle pondered the new world order in the wake of the Cold War, it was clear to him that Japan would revert to nationalism. When the economy boomed in the 1980s causing trade friction with the United States, it was, in part, because Japan was reverting to nationalism. When the economy soured in the 1990s Japanese people consoled themselves by reverting to nationalism. When the economy looked like it was recovering under Koizumi, Japanese were feeling a “new nationalism.” When Abe floated constitutional revision, despite the fact that polls showed that most of the populace didn’t want to have a bar of it under his government, Japan was reverting to nationalism. When tens of thousands of Chinese protested in the streets over the government purchase of the Senkaku islands, destroying the property of Japanese firms and even turning over Japanese cars owned by their fellow citizens, the response from Japan’s nationalists–protests of a few hundred–clearly showed that Japan was reverting to nationalism. And when, disgusted by the DPJ because it didn’t stick to its leftist agenda, supporters of that party stayed at home meaning that the LDP won a landslide despite capturing only around the same total number of votes as in the 2009 election, Japan was reverting to nationalism. And now Abe is back, and polls that highlight his constitutional revision plan show that Japanese still do not want to partake in his constitutional revision agenda, Japan is reverting to nationalism once more.

      http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305020072

      Yes, Japan has been reverting to nationalism for quite some time. I hope Japan never actually “becomes” a nationalist nation and always keeps “reverting.” Otherwise concerned writers will have to find something else to write about.

      – So you’re saying that these proposed constitutional revisions, and involving the Emperor in an overtly political activity (which negates the causes of a Postwar Occupation, despite his father’s historical involvement in them, as merely a dispiriting loss of sovereignty) are simply underresearched Western-style journalistic copy?

    16. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Point-by-point criticism of proposed changes in the constitution (Abe’s version on the left; existing form plus comments on the right)

      http://c3plamo.slyip.com/blog/archives/2012/12/post_2519.html

    17. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Flyjin #14

      ‘[N]egate the basic concept of universal human rights’, and that’s just for native Japanese! Imagine what they will do to NJ rights! And don’t forget, one of the proposed changes would criminalize disrespect for the constitution, and lack of patriotism.

    18. Anon Says:

      Slightly off-topic, but I figured this would be a good place to discuss the proposed changes to the Constitution. This site offers a very interesting side-by-side comparison, with commentary. I originally thought that only content pertaining to the self-defense forced would be changed, but they are trying to rewrite the Constitution from the ground up. Astounding stuff, some of it.

      http://www.geocities.jp/le_grand_concierge2/_geo_contents_/JaakuAmerika2/Jiminkenpo2012.htm

    19. Bitter Valley Says:

      Grandson of unconvicted war criminal Kishida races to turn to turn the clock back to gramp’s era.

      This time a whole lot of his shit looks like it’s going to hit the Asian fan – rather than just the ceramic potty in Nagatcho last time.

    20. Al Says:

      @Flyjin #14

      Hell yeah it’s scary. And it’s not like Japan has ever tried very hard to protect human rights anyway, but at least the concept existed in theory. Now they’re saying they don’t even want to recognize the *concept* of human rights. Wow.

    21. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Debito,

      Saw this in Japan Today, today. Some Japanese coming out and saying that ‘democracy’ is a essentially a nasty little western concept imposed on the Japanese, that erodes Japanese culture and values. Like I mentioned before, if Sick-note gets the changes that the groups he is affiliated with want, Sharia Law will be made to look moderate.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/abes-stealth-constitution-plan-raises-civil-rights-fears

    22. Scipio Says:

      Bitter Valley Says:
      May 3rd, 2013 at 3:36 am
      Grandson of unconvicted war criminal Kishida races to turn to turn the clock back to gramp’s era.

      How can he be a criminal, if he hasn’t been convicted?

    23. Bitter Valley Says:

      @22 Scipio

      I guess one of my points is that the nativist/extremist nationalist strain in Japanese politics, which has been itching to take out the stitching of the U.S. imposed constitution for two generations now is seizing its chance now that the hadome are (nearly) off. All the talk of the constructivists (Oros) or other IR message managers who talk of Japan’s ingrained culture of antimilitarism might find themselves desperately catching up with events.

      Your point is…

    24. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Scipio #22

      Whilst I agree with your logic, Bitter Valley may be mistakenly referring to Abe’s maternal Grandfather, Kishi, who said in his biography, and to journalists, that if GHQ hadn’t let him out of prison during ‘the reverse course’, where he was awaiting trial in connection with war crimes, he would never have become PM. It’s quoted somewhere in Gordon;Postwar Japan as History. Sorry I can’t give you a page number, my books are all boxed up.

    25. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Actually, given that grandfathers on Sick-notes maternal and paternal sides both were implicated in war crimes resulting in incarceration (even though no conviction), why isn’t the Japanese media investigating and reporting the ‘personal psychological issues’ that are driving him to assist the agendas of several revisionist interest groups? This is a man who is completely defined, I believe, on a personal psychological level, by his baggage of his family’s involvement in the war. His willingness to put those interests ahead of the well being of the nation, is psychopathic.

      As PM his responsibility is to Japan’s future, rather than seeking to vindicate the perceived slights against his grandparents (who by any measure, did rather well out of the occupation and post-defeat Japan, after all), surely?

    26. Winning Gold at Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      >So you’re saying that these proposed constitutional revisions, and involving the Emperor in an overtly political activity (which negates the causes of a Postwar Occupation, despite his father’s historical involvement in them, as merely a dispiriting loss of sovereignty) are simply underresearched Western-style journalistic copy?

      Errr. No. I’m saying that journalists have always had fun screaming “NATIONALISM IS RESURGENT IN JAPAN” which rather detracts from a more sober assessment of changes taking place. In any case, as I have noted elsewhere, I would be a little more concerned about some of the changes Abe wants to make to the constitution if I thought they would be accepted by the Japanese public, which has to approve any constitutional revision. People in Japan do want constitutional change, but no one has yet offered them a formula they would accept. Even though people approve of Abe’s economic direction, I’m not convinced they would vote to have, for example, important rights subject to “public order” restrictions or a “national defense army.” As for the Emperor being involved in an overtly political activity, I seem to recall the DPJ inappropriately pulling strings to get Xi Jinping an audience with the Emperor, much to the disgust of other parties, so the door swings both ways. Nevertheless, perhaps if you are concerned about this ceremony, and I’ll agree, it was a dickish thing to do, then you agree with many nationalists who also opposed it and actively protested it on the grounds that the Emperor should stand above politics. You see, nationalism is a very complex phenomenon and there are many types of nationalism (including, by the way, left wing nationalism). Standing around shrieking about the resurgence of it or pondering whether it is rising or falling rather misses the point.

      http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201304190071

      – Thanks for the lucid clarification.

    27. debito Says:

      Japan Focus weighs in on the Restoration of Sovereignty Day:

      Opposition to the Japanese Government’s “Ceremony to Commemorate the Anniversary of Japan’s Restoration of Sovereignty”
      May. 06, 2013
      Statement of Opposition by The Japan Scientists’ Association
      Translated by Michiko Hase
      Introduction by Matthew Penney

      On April 28, a “Ceremony to Commemorate the Anniversary of Japan’s Restoration of Sovereignty and Return to the International Community” was held in Tokyo. As the Abe government makes plans to revise the 1947 constitution, this celebration of the anniversary of the end of the American-led occupation of Japan in 1952 took on a special significance. This brainchild of Abe and other far right conservatives is more than just an attempt at a Japanese “Independence Day”. It casts the Constitution as a foreign imposition and frames postwar reforms as an affront to Japan’s sovereignty and traditions.

      While Abe has recently called into question whether Japan’s wars of the 1930s and 1940s were “aggression”, highlighting his view of the Tokyo Trial and postwar settlement as a form of “victor’s justice”, he is usually careful (or strategically vague) when discussing issues such as the place of human rights in the Constitution and the extent to which “tradition” should determine Japan’s legal foundation. Among his inner circle, however, are many who openly lash out at anything seen as a foreign imposition. Inada Tomomi, the Minister of State for Regulatory Reform in Abe’s cabinet, openly describes subscription to United Nations or international human rights conventions as violations of Japan’s culture. This is part of a pattern of rhetoric that sees the current Constitution as a foreign imposition holding Japan back that must be revised to give primacy to a conservative vision of “Japanese values”. Inada holds, for example, that gender equality laws should be decried as examples of outside pressure that threaten to undermine “traditional” Japanese gender and family norms (Bessatsu Seiron, July 2007). She understands “human rights” not as rights to self-realization and dignity, but the right to be “Japanese”, defined in conservative terms, free from the influence of outsiders. These views are outlined in the book Nihon wo shii suru hitobito (The Ones Who Murder Japan, PHP, 2008), the very title of which suggests that Japan is being “murdered” by those who would chip away at sovereignty, understood not only as territorial integrity, but also as cultural purity. As with Abe and his close supporters generally, there is no reflection on how state and sovereignty can be coercive. At present, far right conservatives believe that norms of sacrifice for the state, women in their “proper” place, military patriotism, and so on are a natural state of being for Japanese, only interrupted due to violations of Japan’s sovereignty – American-led occupation and the Constitution. This is why the “restoration of sovereignty” is celebrated and even fetishized. It represents a desire to return to the imagined purity of an earlier time, an imagination of a “true Japan” that Abe and others want to protect from the inconvenient history of aggression, massacres, violent coercion at home, brutal crackdown on dissent, the ills of modern capitalism, with vicious strikebreaking forgotten and “death from overwork” narrated as a facet of natural industriousness, discrimination, and endemic poverty in the shadows of “miracle” growth.

      Rest of article at http://japanfocus.org/events/view/182

    28. john k Says:

      Seems the BBC picked up this one too:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22519384

      “..A prominent Japanese politician has described as “necessary” the system by which women were forced to become prostitutes for World War II troops…”

      The usual, it is the Japanese way and therefore necessary…..with the final…”oh, so sorry” …soft lame half attempt at an apology while sounding as sincere as a bastard on fathers day to control their own narrative for local consumption! Own goal yet again..

      =======

      13 May 2013 BBC News
      Japan WWII ‘comfort women’ were ‘necessary’ – Hashimoto
      Toru Hashimoto said former comfort women should be offered “kind words”

      A prominent Japanese politician has described as “necessary” the system by which women were forced to become prostitutes for World War II troops.

      Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said the “comfort women” gave soldiers putting their lives at risk a chance “to rest”.

      He acknowledged that the women had been acting “against their will”.

      Some 200,000 women in territories occupied by Japan during WWII are estimated to have been forced into becoming sex slaves for troops.

      Many of the women came from China and South Korea, but also from the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan.

      Japan’s treatment of its wartime role has been a frequent source of tension with its neighbours.

      Mr Hashimoto, the co-founder of the nationalist Japanese Restoration Party, was the youngest governor in Japanese history before becoming mayor of Osaka.

      He said last year that Japan needed “a dictatorship”.

      In his latest controversial comments, quoted by Japanese media, he said: “In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives,”

      “If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that.”

      He also claimed that Japan was not the only country to use the system, though it was responsible for its actions.

      He said he backed a 1995 statement by Japan’s then-PM Tomiichi Murayama, in which he apologised for its wartime actions in Asia.

      “It is a result of the tragedy of the war that they became comfort women against their will. The responsibility for the war also lies with Japan. We have to politely offer kind words to [former] comfort women.”
      ENDS

    29. DK Says:

      About the “necessity” of comfort women, there is a more developed article on NYT, by Hiroko Tabuchi, with even more amazing comments by Hashimoto:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/world/asia/mayor-in-japan-says-comfort-women-played-a-necessary-role.html

    30. Hank Says:

      @ Jim
      “and the apologists will all get put behind barbed wire by the ‘shin-kempeitai’ ”

      often wondered how the apologist would defend Japan under a neo facist regime. Japanese with that mindset do not differ between a realist or apologist; an outsider is an outsider and from what I read about their suffering in WW2, I dont think even Donald Keene would escape it.

      @Doug
      “This is all an interesting discussion, however in the end this begs the question

      – Who should write Japan’s Constitution? and
      – Who should be responsible for the defense of Japan?”

      Who wrote Germany or Italys constitution? I dont see them going backwards. both are for the most part progressive democratic nations. I think the U.S. feels Japan isnt ready for its own army, even after 70 years of occupation, to act like a grown up player at the international level. Just watch the endless documentaries on J tv about rules of engagement, China, the constitution revision, Abe/Ishi debates in the diet. Japan is working itself into a hissy fit, not exactly a sign of social progression or maturity. Its provoking China into acting on its fears. Noda may of been a lame PM, but at least he knew not to stir up China.

    31. Jim Di Griz Says:

      The whole Hashimoto issue would be funny, hilarious, pure comedy gold, if it was all just a comedy show. But it isn’t. It’s real life. He is a real person, and he really was elected as Mayor of Japan’s 2nd biggest city, his party really won 59 seats (more than the outgoing DPJ government) in the national election last year, and the ‘comfort women’ (lets not even use that term- a direct translation of an intentionally ambiguous Japanese language phrase- we should say ‘victims of Japanese army organized mass rape. Let’s call it what it is, and not buy into J-gov blame dodging terms) were real victims. It’s not funny because it’s all real.

      As I said in my post about Abe’s frantic back-peddling now that Korea has alerted the US to the serious threat that is Japanese neo-revisionist nationalism under the current Abe administration, Abe has risked disenfranchising his right-wing support base ahead of the summer upper house elections;
      http://www.debito.org/?p=11443#comment-412892

      Today I read that J-gov spokesmen are backing away from Hashimoto claiming that they don’t understand why he made such statements, or what he hopes to gain from doing so;
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22519384
      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/govt-but-not-ishihara-backs-away-from-hashimotos-comfort-women-comments

      Well, I think it’s clear what Hashimoto’s motivations for his outburst are; he is facing political extinction with a mere 10% approval rating, and has most likely sensed that given last weeks anti-nationalist backtracking by the Abe government, he could say such outrageous things and gather the disenfranchised right wing vote.
      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/14/national/hashimoto-gropes-to-keep-party-relevant-distinct-from-ldp/#.UZIbAhwSFMt

      However, Hashimoto’s gamble has failed to pay off in the short term at least, since the J-gov (although 18 cabinet members are members of groups that would agree with Hashinoto’s stance on history-as documented on Debito.org) is forced to condemn his comments because of the pressure they are receiving from the US over their very own nationalistic outbursts. Sensing that Hashimoto was attempting to charm their right-wing voter base away, did they intentionally ensure this story received international exposure, thus attempting to place Hashimoto in the same ‘cognitive dissonance trap’ that they themselves (along with all of their voters) are caught in; that of believing that aplogism for Japanese wartime brutality and war crime denial is justified, whilst being unable to admit such thoughts for fear of losing the support of their biggest ally in the face of the revenge they fear from their former victim now made super-power (China)?

      This is the tatemae of the LDP government for the sake of international opinion, facing off against the honne of Hashinoto for the sake of the Japanese voter.

      Which will be stronger? How much domestic support will transfer from the LDP to Hashimoto? How far will the LDP go to undermine him?
      It’s as if the Japanese are having a civil war between what they believe and what they feel they shouldn’t say out loud, about the war.

      If we are extremely lucky, 68 years after the war ended for the rest of the world, the Japanese public will be able to accept that ‘history is written by the victors’, as it were, and finally turn to the future.

      (and all the while, 3 reactors spewed contamination into the food chain unabatedly).

    32. Hank Says:

      You must admit, everything so far after the Ishi Senkaku Islands incident has been very predictable. Ish creates incident—>manipulates Noda who then unintentionally pisses off China—>stirs up nationalism in the region—-> gets his gang elected—–>is now working overtime to change Article 9.
      Lets see, what comes next? My prediction —> incidents with China continue —> Article 9 gets changed with new rules of engagement—-China preempts any Japanese “defense” by an attack on an JSDF plane or vessel as soon as art. 9 gets changed—->Japan panics (as during the Fukushima disaster) and calls on the international community to intervene—>hypernationalism, hypersensitivy and just hypers vs. the suddenly found their voice crowd who speak out against Abe and his ilk debate unfolds—->calm returns but Ishi and gang are smiling Oyaji smiles as the stage is now set to get the Meji constitution back into action—->nationalist prevail and Japans pacifist are squashed.—> so called pacifist who are actually closet nationalist join ranks with hardcore nationalist and unite with “ganbare Japan” as their slogan…..

    33. Loverilakkuma Says:

      Conservative pundit speaks out in his twitter for his testosterone boost. I decided to nominate him for Todd Akin Award(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Akin).

      https://twitter.com/t_ishin

    34. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Hashimoto is going to visit the US!!!!

      I hope he is greeted at the airport by a demo of thousands of Korean Americans, and subjected to constant media attacks for his comments whilst I also hope that no US officials legitimize him by meeting with him. WRITE TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN/WOMAN NOW!

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/15/national/hashimoto-sticks-to-guns-on-sex-slaves/#.UZN64RwSGkM

    35. john k Says:

      #34JDG

      I wonder what reception he’ll get indeed, especially given today’s news:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22564349

      “..The US has condemned recent remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto justifying Japan’s war-time use of sex slaves as “outrageous and offensive”…”

      Good to see the Beeb using the correct terminology too, that being “sex slaves”, which was finally ‘corrected’ by Hillary Clinton.

    36. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ John K #35

      I thoroughly agree!

      As for today’s developments, very interesting!

      A cross party group of female diet members (not including LDP or Isshin) has come out attacking Hashimoto;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/17/national/11-women-in-diet-decry-hashimoto/#.UZYNaRwSFMs

      Interesting point is that (given they are opposition law makers) they are calling for Abe to make a clear personal condemnation of Hashimoto. They know that after the chewing out about nationalism that the US gave Abe last week, Abe is stuck between a rock and a hard place, just before the summer elections. Abe can’t cash in on Hashimoto’s nationalism because he will anger Japan’s US protectors, possibly forcing him to resign again. But on the other hand, he can’t condemn Hashimoto or he will lose his remaining right-wing voter base. The result? Abe would love to be bragging about how ‘abenomics’ has (according to today’s reports) achieved a 3.5% growth for the first quarter, and how the Nikkei has shot up 70% since he won the election, but he can’t, for fear that if he is questioned about Hashimoto, he will have to ‘no comment’, and upset the US and his right wing voters both! Excellent result!

      As for Hashimoto, despite yesterday offering apologies as he attempted to back-pedal, today he has flip-flopped completely;

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/defiant-hashimoto-says-u-s-troops-abused-women-during-occupation

      He is deliberately attempting to confuse the issue of women (and girls) abducted against their will to be sex-slaves for the Japanese army, with US marines who might go into town at the weekend to spend their paycheck at a hen house. These two things are not the same. He also has decided that rather than apologize for *his* comments, that he has the authority to apologize *for Japan*! Isn’t that the job of the man elected Prime Minister? And yet, Abe sits twiddling his thumbs, when he should be shooting Hashimoto down for his impudence, and the whole right-wing community can see that Abe is all mouth and no action.

      Perhaps, given this report that US lawmakers are unanimously condemning him, Hashimoto has decided to jump in with both feet (just like Tamogami), and take an anti-US J-nationalist standpoint (after all, his co-leader did write ‘The Japan that can say ‘no”);

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/17/national/hashimoto-remarks-outrageous-and-offensive-u-s-state-department/#.UZYNRxwSFMs

      Since both Hashimoto and Abe won elections on right-wing revisionist tickets, it is clear that more than just ‘a minority’ in Japan share his opinions.

      Prediction time!
      I can see that in the next couple of days Hashimoto will cancel his US trip (for fear of demos, and US officials embarrassing him by refusing to meet-oh, the national scandal! How humiliating for Japan!), citing that ‘the US can’t admit their own fault for using prostitutes, why do they always bash us? It’s not fair. I won’t go to the US on my knees, begging for forgiveness’, and many Japanese will applaud him.

      Then either Ishihara or the Mayor of Nagoya will decide to cash in on the popular anti-US feeling by bringing up Nanking, and when the US condemn that outburst, Hashimoto will be there explaining to the voters that the US is oppressing Japan.

      As for Abe, he could be finished now. He can’t exploit the economic ‘success’ of abenomics. He can’t denounce Hashimoto, and show the country that the US is his great ally in the Senkaku dispute. He can’t ‘Out right-wing’ Hashimoto and control the nationalist wave anymore to bolster his own popularity. I sense a new PM before the summer elections. Someone very pro-US (in public), that can shut down Hashimoto’s right-wing outbursts as ‘counter-productive’ to Japan’s international standing. Aso, again?

    37. Markus Says:

      @John K (#35) Thank you for the link to this article. I find this quote by Hashimoto especially interesting:

      “Everybody was doing bad things. I think Japanese people… should offer objections if there is a misunderstanding of facts in the world.”

      This is in line with the answer I get from most Japanese when embarrassing stuff cannot be just plainly denied anymore.
      “There might be bullying (discrimination, organised crime, etc.) in Japan, but that’s not in any kind different from what goes on in other countries.”

      On the one hand, it could be called a slight progress that there are now Japanese people who do not deny, straight to your face, that any kind of bad things exist in Japan, like the often repeated, “there is no crime, alcoholism, or unemployed people in Japan”, but admit that this stuff exists.

      On the other hand, it is still not reflecting this as the first step to improvement, but justifying it by pointing fingers at other countries (like a child would do). That’s why it is important to point out to Japanese people the vast amount of, for example, corruption in Japanese politics and bureaucracy and the weight of influence of organized crime on all levels of this society.

    38. john k Says:

      #36JDG

      Funny I was down the pub last night with my mate, and this topic came up, (Long story why) I basically summed up why this is very juicy now for him –he’ s not politically savvy at all.

      Has any Japanese politician disagreed with Hashimotto? ..if so, have we heard their reply and condemnation of Hashimoto in Japanese media? But more importantly, has said politician(s) actually said so not just publically, but “internationally” since this is also picked up by international news media? Such as Abe, as you rightly noted…as it should be him doing so.

      The point I was making to him was that why does it require another country to criticise Hashimoto and his comments?…because no one in Japan disagrees with him. (It is Abe’s role to criticise and rebuke him under such circumstances…but has he…er….nope). They make not necessarily “like him”, but actually do not really disagree with his views and sentiments either. Thus, whilst Hashimoto is now a joke to the international community, it does send out a very strong message, that being, this is not the voice of a lone politician, but, of a nation too. And a nation that does not see any problems with such comments made by a politician and thus no need to real him in for making such comments. Ergo…this is the true face of Japan not the cute/safe/polite/kawaiiiii rubbish that is peddled and staged managed for a foreign audience.

      Interesting times ahead indeed…

    39. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Aha! Abe has found his right wing voice again!

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/abe-defends-right-to-visit-yasukuni-shrine

      I think he has been scratching around for a topic that will raise domestic support amongst the right-wing, takes a poke at the US-just to steal Hashimoto’s thunder, and that he hopes the US will overlook.

      I also think that the US should point out to Abe that unlike Yasukuni, Arlington does not have any convicted Class A war criminals. So it’s not really the same, is it?

      And Hashimoto, having blamed the whole thing on the media misrepresenting him, and the public for having poor reading comprehension skills, has today come out and made a an out-right denial that the ‘comfort women’ were abducted sex-slaves, but rather they were all willing volunteers;

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/19/national/hashimoto-fires-back-pins-outcry-on-media/

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/19/national/comfort-women-rap-unfair-hashimoto/

      ‘Comfort women rap unfair’? Not nearly as unfair as ‘abduction and repeated rape’, but there you have it, Hashimoto is playing the kawai sou Japanese victim of the big bad outside world. Ahh, poor baby.

    40. john k Says:

      It is not getting any better for Hashimoto:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22650673

      “Two South Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II have cancelled a planned meeting with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto”

      And yet this comment is so so telling:

      “The Japanese government, which in 1993 issued a formal apology over the issue, has sought to distance itself from his comments.”

      Yep..it just distances itself from his comments. The lack of any kind of rebuke is a real deafening silence.!!

    41. john k Says:

      Just keeps piling up for Hashimoto….funny that, being in the public eye, neh!

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22666899

      “The mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka has apologised for suggesting US soldiers should use legal brothels as a way to curb sexual crimes in Okinawa..”

      And still no comment from Abe et al.

    42. Joseph Says:

      Even funnier how Hashimoto “apologized” to the US military, but not to the sex slaves of WW2 that he offended in his remarks.

      Also shows how rampantly the inaccurate euphemism ‘Comfort Women’ (慰安婦) instead of sex slave is being normalized around J-media and the J-education system.

      I hope at least that international media won’t buy into this.

    43. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Here is the press release that Hashimoto gave out prior to his FCCJ statement today.

      English; http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305270012

      Japanese;http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130526mog00m010012000c.html

      It’s a pompus self-righteous joke, with more contradictions than I can count, and a tour de force of ‘Japan as victim’ of international opinion narrative, wrapped in copious amounts of ‘regret’ language, that does not deliver an apology for his remarks, nor his allegations against the US in Okinawa, without qualifying such comments as ‘Japan the victim’ in some way.

      Deplorable.

    44. john k Says:

      he keeps on putting his foot in his mouth:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22684826

      ..it isn’t going away. And still, nothing, zip, from Abe…that is the most deafening silence now!

    45. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Saw this today:

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/strong-japan-will-be-no-threat-to-asia-says-defense-minister

      Upon reading it, a number of things leapt off the screen;

      ‘Japan is strengthening its economy and military to play a responsible international role, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said’, as opposed to speedy action over the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions, Whaling, and ending the radioactive contamination of the Pacific in order to play a responsible international role?

      ‘seeking to defuse suspicion of neighbours scarred by its attacks and occupations last century’. Woah! I thought Japan was ‘helping’ it’s neighbors by ‘liberating’ them from colonial oppression? Onodera being a little too truthful, isn’t he? But don’t stop on my account….

      ‘Japan, (sic), “caused tremendous damage and suffering” in the past’. Admittance?

      “A strong Japan will play a responsible role in the area of regional security and exercise strong leadership as expected by the international community,” I’m sorry Onodera, I’m a bit confused. Exactly which regional nations have been asking Japan to ‘lead them strongly’?

      ‘“Some say Japan is tilting toward the right because of these initiatives. Moreover, we sometimes hear criticism that Japan is abandoning its identity as a pacifist nation and is attempting to challenge the existing international order,” Onodera said.’ ‘Challenge the existing international order’? No one has accused Japan of doing such a thing. Onodera is refuting a criticism that hasn’t been made yet, and showing that policy is still in the 1930s.
      ‘“These views are total misperceptions,”’ Where have I heard that before?….Ah, that’s right. It’s the excuse Hashimoto used when he got called out on saying that sex-slaves were necessary.

      ‘“These efforts are crucial in the pursuit of our national interest, which is to maintain and strengthen international order based on fundamental values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”’. An LDP politician who believes in ‘freedom and democracy’? Wow, is he in for a shock when someone tells him that his boss wants to take that out of the constitution and replace it with ‘patriotic duty to the state’.

      ‘Asked whether Japan has plans to develop nuclear weapons, Onodera said: “We don’t think of doing that at all and we have three non-nuclear principles which we adhere to.”’. Yeah, but (once again) his boss wants to change the constitution this summer, so maybe Onodera will be wanting nukes after Abe drops the 3 non-nuclear principles.

    46. john k Says:

      Hmmm..it just does not improve no matter their rhetoric to the “outside world”. The same tired old behaviour:

      “..Papers criticise Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for sending a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo…”

      “..A People’s Daily commentary rebukes Mr Abe’s offering, while Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao refers to the Japanese right-wing forces as “demons” being “abnormally excited about worshipping ghosts”…The Ta Kung Pao says “as long as Mr Abe does not express deep remorse over Japan’s long history of aggression, relations with neighbouring countries could never improve”….”*

      * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-24576960

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