Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April delivered a speech to the U.S. Congress — the first by a Japanese leader — that lauded deepening trade ties and the military alliance with the United States.

The speech, carefully tuned for his U.S. audience, cast Abe as a defender of strong democratic principles, a leader with "deep repentance" in his heart for the "lost dreams of young Americans" who died fighting Japan in World War II.

Conspicuously missing, writes veteran Japan watcher Gavan McCormack, was any mention of the core Abe values that Congress could hardly be expected to share: "take back Japan," "cast off the postwar regime" and revise the U.S.-imposed Constitution; teach "correct" history to make the country's youth proud and "revere the spirits of Japan's war dead," including those convicted by the Allies as war criminals.