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.

      • savorywill

        How about the United States apologising for its many wrongs, not the least of which was the use of atomic weapons on populated areas, to set a good example? Japan has already given unequivocal apologies for its wartime activities, as is mentioned in the article.

      • Ron NJ

        Sorry for saving millions of lives by ending the war without having to use Operation Downfall? Going to be a bit hard to really make a rational argument for that one.

      • savorywill

        Saving millions of lives? This is a highly specious statement. Study about Eisenhower’s view on that. He was far more qualified with regard to this issue than either of us and he deplored the dropping of the bombs, stating that it had been unnecessary as the Japanese airforce had already been destroyed and Japan was on the verge of surrender at that time anyway.

      • Miura_Anjin

        If even one Allied life was saved by the use of nuclear weapons in forcing Japan’s surrender, then the use of nuclear weapons was completely justified. Let’s not forget that Japan had started a war of aggression which had killed millions in Asia and that their armed forces had thrown even the most basic respect for human life out the window.

        As for the projected casualties, if we take estimates prepared for the joint Chiefs of Staff, then the planners were envisaging 1.2 million American casualties. In a separate report prepared for the secretary of war, Japanese casualties were expected to be between 5 to 10 million.

        If one looks at it from the Allied point of view, dropping the bombs was undoubtedly the right decision.

        If one looks at it from the Japanese point of view, dropping the bombs was undoubtedly the least destructive course of action.

      • savorywill

        This argument is the worst one, and the most racist, that I could imagine anyone making. Allied lives are more important than Japanese lives? According to whom? I am American and I view all life as having the same value. We are human beings first and foremost, and our nationality is just an accident of where we happened to be born.

        I have been to the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima and upon leaving, I couldn’t stop crying from having seen what my country did at that time. I also learned there that the second bomb, on Nagasaki, was a plutonium one, as opposed to the uranium bomb used on Hiroshima. I also realised then that the Nagasaki was dropped only three days later. It would have been logistically impossible for Japan to surrender in three days. Couldn’t the powers that be at that time have waited a couple of weeks before dropping the next bomb, and sparing all those lives, most of whom were not soldiers and combatants? No, they just wanted to test their new weapon and see how much damage it caused.

        And there has been no apology to date from the US authorities for this atrocity. It is shameful!!!

      • Ron NJ

        The only thing shameful is your view on the entire situation, honestly.

      • MeTed

        “This argument is the worst one, and the most racist, that I could
        imagine anyone making. Allied lives are more important than Japanese
        lives? According to whom?”

        It’s not racism. It wasn’t about the Japanese and the Americans. It was about us and the enemy. And war is about killing the enemy. Therefore allied lives were worth more than the enemy.

      • Ron NJ

        Frank, Richard B. (1999). Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-41424-7.
        “A study done for Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s staff by William Shockley
        estimated that conquering Japan would cost 1.7–4 million American
        casualties, including 400,000–800,000 fatalities, and five to ten
        million Japanese fatalities. The key assumption was large-scale
        participation by civilians in the defense of Japan.”

      • manule

        How about the warlords of the time and the emperor showa himself apologizing to their own population for their failure to comply to the surrender terms in time, despite the fact that Japan was already devastated and they were warned more than once about it. They were the real culprits, and they cause this unnecessary pain to their own people for nothing else than their own inflated personal egos. Even after the first bomb was dropped they were still considering it. It took a second one for them to come to terms, so be real and blame it on the real culprits.

      • savorywill

        So, we drop atomic bombs on children going to school, old people going about their business and utterly destroy an entire city to teach those arrogant warlords a lesson? Listen to your argument! How can anyone have such a cruel view of life. Whatever Japan did during the war (and it never even bombed civilian areas in the US), two wrongs never make a right, no matter how we try to whitewash something from the distance of time.

      • Ron NJ

        You’re starting from the position that ‘bombing = wrong’, which is something that militarily just isn’t the case. Population centers – especially those used for manufacturing of war equipment (Hiroshima, Kure, etc) and basing military personnel – are valid targets in war. Don’t apply (possibly misguided) 21st century ideals to a 20th century war, and don’t underestimate the resolve to keep fighting to the bitter end of the Japanese state.

      • Ron NJ

        Yes, we will. Civilians die in war, it’s a thing that happens, has happened, and will always happen. That’s reality, and you need to come to terms with it.

      • MeTed

        “atomic weapons on populated areas”
        No good dropping them on unpopulated areas. Is it? America committed no crime because it was responding to an act of aggression.

      • savorywill

        There was a plan put forward by the scientists working on the Manhattan project to drop the bomb on one of the many islands which have small populations, warning the residents to depart beforehand, and then dropping the bomb there as a demonstration of US power to expedite surrender. Why wouldn’t that have been a better way?

        Yes, Japan did attack first, but it didn’t bomb Honolulu. It attacked the naval fleet which was at Pearl Harbor to enforce a blockade to prevent Japan getting oil. The two military actions, bombing Pearl Harbor and two bombings (the one on Nagasaki was only three days after Hiroshima – could Japan have surrendered in three days??), are not comparable. It is like murdering a pickpocket and all of his family for the theft of a wallet.

      • savorywill

        I am waiting for an apology from the US for dropping the two atomic bombs. That was a war crime of unprecedented size and though we can’t change the past, at least we can, through apologising, acknowledge that it was the wrong thing to do and it should never be done again.

      • Ron NJ

        The only war crime worth speaking of was not actually convicting all of the actual Japanese war criminals and instead offering them amnesty in exchange for their research.

      • TiredOfExplaining

        The Japanese people were already starving and suffering under daily bombardment from US planes when the bomb was dropped. The Japanese military, instead of surrendering, merely increased kamikaze attacks against enemy units, and began arming civilians – men, women and children – with bamboo spears.

        America was faced with three options: blockade Japan and starve them into submission; invade, and force US soldiers to fight children with sticks – basically, murdering Japanese citizens left and right; or bomb them into submission.

        The thing is, the US cannot apologize for what she did in that war. Not out of hubris, or a belief that we were righteous and just in what we did. But rather, we can’t apologize because there are simply no words for what happened. Japan invaded. We fought them. We defeated them. And in the course of doing so, unspeakable things happened.

        Japan can apologize for systematically invading, taking over and conquering nations. But Japan and America can’t apologize to each other. To do so would belittle the men who fought that war. A simple, “Oops, sorry” will never, ever make up for what happened between our countries. Like two good drinking buddies who get in a fight, we can merely nod, shake hands, and move on.

        So the situation with the US and Japan is so unspeakably different from what happened in China and Korea. Not worth comparing the two.

    • 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…