It was with little surprise that I heard of the Noda government’s decision to nationalize three of the five Senkaku islets. Rightwing nationalists like Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara may be a minority, yet they seem to punch above their weight in terms of influence.
Ishihara had merely to propose that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buy some of the islets from their owner and the Noda government tripped over itself in its rush to head him off. This outcome — provoking the Japanese government into nationalizing the islets — may be what Ishihara had in mind all along.
In most developed countries, especially in Europe, someone as extreme as Ishihara would have been censured and rendered irrelevant long ago. His revisionist views, along with those of his cohorts Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and the fact that he has remained in office all this time nonetheless — are undermining Japan’s efforts at reconciliation with its Asian neighbors over the past.
Army nationalists manipulated Japan’s government in the Manchurian Incident of 1931. History must not repeat itself.
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.
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