Suga rushes to smother LDP’s latest brush fire over war


Staff Writer

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was again forced to go into damage control mode Monday after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s own policy chief said on NHK the previous day that President Shinzo Abe disagreed with the findings of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

The tribunal, officially called the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, was held in 1946 to try Japan’s political and military leaders for war crimes after Japan’s surrender in World War II. The tribunal found Tokyo guilty of waging wars of aggression upon China and other countries during its bid to colonize Asia.

Suga brushed aside the controversial remarks made by policy chief Sanae Takaichi as her “private opinions.” During a Sunday debate program on NHK, Takaichi had said she believes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has “different opinions” about the war from the viewpoint of the Tribunal.

At a news conference Monday, Suga said that Abe’s Cabinet, like its precedessors, accepts the judgement of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal and that Takaichi’s remarks were her private views.

“The prime minister has also clearly accepted (the Tribunal’s ruling),” Suga said.

The government’s top spokesman also repeated that the Abe Cabinet upholds the unequivocal 1995 war apology issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

“The government’s view has already been made clear,” he said.

On NHK, Takaichi, a well-known rightwing conservative, questioned the Murayama statement, widely regarded as Japan’s official apology for the war and its attempts to colonize Asia.

Murayama said Japan followed “a mistaken national policy” and “advanced along the road to war.”

But Takaichi argued that Japan could have been turned into “a colony” because its access to natural resources was blocked at the time. She didn’t elaborate, but was apparently discussing why Japan decided to go to war against the United States and other Western countries.

Suga, apparently worried about diplomatic repercussions from Takaichi’s remarks, talked to her by phone Monday afternoon and explained the government’s stance on history issues.

Later in the day, a senior political official urged the government and the LDP, which is enjoying high support ratings, to keep a low profile on history issues because the Upper House election is drawing near.

Many conservative lawmakers argue that Japan waged wars of self-defense, not aggression, during the 1930s and 40s and refuse to accept the ruling of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

Abe himself created a scene late last month by arguing that the definition of the word “aggression” has not been firmly established either by academics or the international community.

On Friday, Suga made it clear that Abe’s Cabinet upholds the Murayama statement in its entirety, including the admission that Japan waged wars of aggression.

  • 151E

    Were is my friend Masa Chekov? Do you not see, it is not the socialist masochistic media but these politically inept lawmakers that keep dredging up the ugly past? And now Toru Hashimoto comes out saying that comfort women were an necessity. These incessant denials and justifications only open old wounds, undermine the credibility of official apologies, and feed anti-Japanese sentiment.

  • savorywill

    I think that she is right. What Japan did during that time was simply follow the pattern of the United States and other European countries, which had colonised most of the non-European world by the time Japan entered the picture as a force to be reckoned with. Prior to the Meiji era, Japan had not even taken over Hokkaido, so it certainly didn’t have imperialistic tendencies historically.

    The United States had colonised the Philippines in the early 1900’s, using military force and causing many casualties there. So, why is only Japan expected to apologize for its military policies at that time when they were standard for all of the imperialistic nations then? I haven’t heard of the United States issuing any apologies for the many wars it has instituted since that time, such as in Vietnam, Iraq and the ongoing tragedy in Afghanistan now, let alone for the genocide of its native populations.

    How about apologising for dropping two atomic bombs on populated areas in Japan, one only three days after the first one?

    • Ron NJ

      “The West jumped off a bridge, so we will too!”

    • 151E

      You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. But don’t then expect smooth relations with the countries you invaded and exploited.

      And I’m sure you are aware that there is much ambivalence and animosity especially towards the US, but also Britain and other colonial powers, for the various wars they’ve waged, political interference and often exploitive economic relations with other nations. Is that the shallow ideal you aspire to?

      I agree that Japan chose the path of empire against the threat of being just another colony. But that doesn’t mean its annexation of territory, use of forced labour (including comfort women), and mass killings of prisoners and civilians, should or will be easily forgiven by formerly subjugated nations.

      If Japan wants smooth relations with its neighbors, her politicians needs to stop with the denial and justifications.

    • NiseiShonagon

      The difference is the U.S.’s major politicians have the good sense to keep their mouths shut and not dredge up long-ended conflicts in order to bizarrely play the victim. Any decent country would have censured or forced the resignation of someone in this woman’s position who spoke as thoughtlessly as she did.

      Equating an act of war, which the bombing was, with explicit war CRIMES (sex slavery) only serves to weaken your position, and I fail to see how this eye-for-an-eye approach you seem to be advocating helps anybody.

    • zer0_0zor0

      The UK atrocities in the Boxer rebellion would probably be more poignant than the US in the Philippines.

      You’re partially correct about Japan joining the imperialist and neo-imperialist fray with the Western nations, but that doesn’t excuse the character of the essentially criminal aggression, or the somewhat theological basis it came to take on after 1905, particularly evident in the incidents surrounding the assassination of the empress of Korea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empress_Myeongseong and subsequent colonization.

      And it was a UK betrayal in the 1920s that burried the Taisho democracy movement, the last vestiges of progressives in Japan, whose demise cleared the way to a theocratic fascism, basically. Marius Jansen’s Salamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration is a good place to start in relation to these issues.

    • ChrisJF

      You think she is right?!? No one forced Japan to invade as may
      neighboring countries as possible. It was solely greed and a sense
      of racial and cultural superiority that drove Japan to conquest.
      Who cares if other imperialist powers did likewise?! Each
      historical example is different. Sure other countries should
      apologize for past wrongs, and some even have. Japan can and must
      do the same. It doesn’t matter what other countries did. Japan has
      to be responsible for her own past.
      And you say there were no attempts to gain land overseas until
      the Meiji Era? Try telling that to the Koreans who still mourn the
      dead of 16th century Japanese invasions.
      As for the atomic bombs, they are irrelevant to the discussion.
      Do you really think a former sex slave of the Japanese military
      would feel any sense of ease if America apologized about the bombs?
      Apples and oranges.

    • Mori Tadasu

      I seem to recall a conflict on the Korean Peninsula waged under the auspices of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century, which of course was not due to any imperialistic tendencies, based on your reckoning of history. Also, China has been largely content through most of its history to tend to its borders, so there should be nothing to fear from China currently. Is this so?

      Also, your line of logic suggests that if the US apologized for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then decided to retract or alter that apology such that the US declaimed any responsibility for its aggressive acts, because of war crimes committed by Japan during World War II, then this would be acceptable to you. Is this the case?

      I do not dispute your criticism of hypocrisy in the US, but this hypocrisy does not negate the misdeeds of the past on the part of Japan. Should normal Japanese citizens be reminded of this every waking day? No. Should high-level Japanese government officials act ludicrously on a routine basis, taking into account the very different geopolitical situation of the area now, compared to 100 years ago? I would hope not.

    • TiredOfExplaining

      “it certainly didn’t have imperialistic tendencies historically.” Ha!

      1) The only reason Japan didn’t have an overseas empire is the simple fact that they lacked the seafaring technology that the rest of the world had. They were stuck on their island because they couldn’t figure out how to make decent boats. The second they figured that out, though, they were off starting a world war!

      2) But, no, actually, there WERE Japanese colonies in Korea, and maybe some others that I’m unaware of. I haven’t studied it much, frankly. I was surprised, though, to learn of those colonies, because, like you said, there is a kind of myth that Japan is a “homogenous” nation, so people don’t really want to talk about Japan’s real history that contradicts that myth.

      3) To even give the barest implication that Japan got its imperialistic fervor from Western powers is stupid, to say the lease, considering that Japanese history is pretty much one, long, drawn out battle over the crown of a tiny empire – that’s pretty much all samurai ever did – argue bloodily over who gets to sit on Japan’s throne. Yes, that empire as we know it is now one, simple, single nation-state, but much like Britain, there was plenty of war, conquest and genocide to go around on those little islands. Don’t be naive.

  • Ron NJ

    “accept, uphold, etc” the verdict of the tribunals =/= agree with the verdict. And therein lies the problem.

  • Matthew Joyce

    What was the 1930’s Japanese Slogan? “Asia for Asians”? Where really it should have been “Asia for Japan”, we’ll steal all your resources, rape and murder millions of your citizens and then when we lose we’ll deny that it ever happened. Until Japan fully comes to terms with its past, it will never be able to free itself for the future. I love Japan it is my second home, my Grandfather from Australia spent three years helping to rebuild Kure and Hiroshima along with 40,000 other Australians, New Zealanders, Indians and British while also destroying weapons of war during and helping to employ and repatriate returned Japanese troops and being responsible for 30 million Japanese (one third of Japan at the time) 1946 – 1952. The devastation on the countries left behind by the Japanese and the rebuilding of those countries in Asia and throughout the Pacific wasn’t evidence enough for reflection… no instead it produced denial by the Japanese and erasing of it’s crimes. Japan paid dearly for this as well. When you deny these events, you deny the truth of what happened to your own people who sufferred. There is no greater shame. I’ve never seen such dishonour in my life.

  • 思德

    I would like Japan to be a fully sovereign state without American bases all over it, but seriously when their politicians come out denying the SYSTEMATIC aggression and war crimes that they committed, I wonder. Hubris is what got Japan into its current situation of being under America’s thumb. Hubris is certainly not going to get it out.

  • Pat

    The world still has a long distance to travel towards true civilization; enslavement of humans by commercial interests, unnecessary destruction of sentient species, conserving resources for future generations are some of our challenges. What is behind this sensationalist focus on past wrongs, in which all players have some apologies to make? Politicians, please utilize your positions to better the world and strive to disregard those who exploit every issue for their self-aggrandizement!

  • paul

    Dropping the bomb was done because the Americans wanted a country which was reasonably intact rather than the divided shell which happened in the case of Germany. With the Soviets close at hand they wanted a country which was still one. By dropping the bombs the shocked Japan into realising that resistance was worthless.
    The Japanese could have kept on resisting but the leaders knew that they would not be invaded as in the case of D-Day so their structures would also most likely be kept in place; ie the retention of the emperor. This meant that they had a great opportunity to lose but to also win.
    It was a win-win situation for both countries but at what cost. Japan is a colony of the US and…