It seems like there is no time like the present for Japanese to reflect on the wartime past. Japan's shared history with Asia has long been a running sore, dividing Japanese about what happened and why, a discourse that clouds the issue of war responsibility in ways that antagonize East Asian neighbors who suffered most from Japanese aggression and subjugation.

WAR, GUILT, AND WORLD POLITICS AFTER WORLD WAR II, by Thomas U. Berger. Cambridge University Press, 2012, 259 pp., $29.99 (paperback)

So why are Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other LDP lawmakers, along with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, reigniting Japan's history problem at a time when regional tensions are running so high?