Abe looks set to reinvent a personal Japan

Regarding the Jan. 1 article “Abe’s quest to revive, reshape nation rides on the economy“: The headline seems turned the wrong way. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s real revival target is not Japan’s consumer economy, but rather Japan’s economic prowess internationally.

After Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s liabilities pushed the government toward financial meltdown, Abe set out to refurbish the government’s coffers. As Japan has lost its position as Asia’s top economic power, actions that destabilize the area and drag America into the fray appear lucrative. How else will Japan escape its long slump?

The government will never downsize itself or cut its own expenditures; quite the opposite, as it has just granted itself the largest new year’s gift in history and has set out on a military hardware spending spree.Wasn’t the foundation for Japan’s economic miracle the fortune gained from providing infrastructure for the United States during the Korean War?

Just check the figures for the 2014 budget: Much of the revenue to be tapped from raising the consumption tax (beginning in April) is to be used for self-serving public works projects and military rearmament.

“Abenomics” is not about revitalizing the country’s economy for the people; it’s for the government itself. If not, Abe surely would have pursued policies aimed at increasing consumer confidence, not destroying it.

The most troubling aspects of Japan’s recent belligerence are the unchecked speed of its decision-making process and the language used to express it. It took only a day, for example, to suspend a decades-long ban on ammo exports, and a few legislative procedures to foist the state secrets act onto the nation.

Abe seems ready to cut our fragile freedoms at will. The lack of honest discussion and transparency must be eerily reminiscent of Japan’s pre-1945 rhetoric to those who lived through that era. If all the peaceful safeguards put on Japan — after its 20th-century aggressions killed so many millions of Asians — can be brushed aside so easily, Abe will appear as a bomb waiting to explode so that he can line his pockets with military plunder.

Japan even appeared to perjure itself last month when it insisted that South Korea had indicated that it needed ammunition for its U.N. peacekeeping forces. The Korean government ended up returning the whole consignment!

More sinister than any specific example of macho-male dominated politics is the pervading language of deceit being pushed into the public’s ears.The most offensive of late must surely have been the prime minister’s defense of his Yasukuni Shrine visit as an act designed “to promote peace”!

This underscores the poison of Abe’s “proactive peace.” The country that instigated and lost the Asian half of World War II has yet to fully face up to the fact it wasn’t on the winning side. Japan still shows reluctance to sincerely apologize to or appease its neighbors for all the lives it tore to pieces, including those of its own people.

Abe appears intent on rocking the Asian boat until America is forced to ramp up its involvement and pay Japan’s industrial sector for military supplies. This would indicate his determination never to reflect sincerely on the meaning of war, but rather to continue reinventing Japan as the war victim and the moral victor.

Many Japanese people were among the war’s victims, yet the culprits are still glorified at Yasukuni Shrine by Abe and members of his inner circle.

david john
chikushino, fukuoka

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.