With regard to Hisahiko Okazaki’s Feb. 20 commentary titled “Japan’s step toward normalcy,” I’d like to add my two pence worth.
Okazaki mentions that “certain elements in Japan and overseas are warning of a dangerous swing to the right in Japan politics” and that he finds their concerns “hard to understand.”
First, Japan has just re-elected a strongly rightwing leader, Shinzo Abe, who has a history of denying war crimes and the existence of wartime sex slaves. People are understandably concerned.
Okazaki may have a point about the limited effectiveness of rightwing groups in contemporary Japan. They are very effective at intimidating cinemas that show controversial material such as the documentary film about the Taiji dolphin hunt, “The Cove.”
May I suggest that he look in the direction of the political parties themselves. There, the hardline rightwingers (along with the Liberal Democratic Party) are now effectively running the country.
Okazaki speaks of Washington relying on Japan’s “cooperation.” This cooperation exists in the form of the 1951 and 1960 security treaties. These treaties allow the United States to station sizable forces in Japan, mainly in Okinawa, against heavy local opposition.
However, if Japan were to take measures to improve relations with China at least, the need for this military presence would be significantly reduced.
Such measures might include complete honesty about Japan’s war crimes as well as its admission that a dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands does indeed exist.
Is such common sense within the grasp of the current LDP administration?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.