Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine was an act of mischief by a peacock of patriotism. Two Japan experts who live on the East Coast of the United States seem less alarmed than distantly concerned.

Harvard professsor emeritus Ezra Vogel has called attention to the powerful “emotional responses” of the Chinese to Abe’s visit. He notes that the Chinese were deeply humiliated by Japan’s economic success and retain a “deep sense of anger at their widespread suffering caused by Japan.”

To lay the groundwork for enduring stability, he advises Japanese leaders to “prepare a statement (several tens of pages) stressing their many contributions to peace since World War II.” In a similar vein, he advises Chinese leaders to be open to meeting frequently with their Japanese counterparts.

Political science professor Gerald L. Curtis tells a reporter that Japan should “take pride in admitting what you’re not proud of” and believes that Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s 1995 statement of remorse and apology is “about as strong … an apology as you can ask for.”

Yet he is reported saying that “Japan has to do something.”

What is puzzling is that neither Vogel nor Curtis imagines a peace-restoring role for highly regarded Emperor Akihito.

warren iwasa

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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