When Human Rights Watch in November criticized the Japanese government's ineffective "quiet diplomacy" surrounding the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, netizens on one of Japan's most popular mainstream websites were swift to criticize. "Aren't you criticizing the wrong country?" one user wrote. "I don't understand why Japan has to be called out." Similar voices were echoed over 700 times in a matter of days.

It's unlikely that their views represent Japan's public sentiment on the Rohingya crisis. But their rhetoric provides a glimpse into the minds of those who either are unaware of or refuse to acknowledge Japan's shameful track record of looking the other way on human rights abroad when it has mattered most.

For more than 40 years, Japan prided itself on having the world's second-largest economy. That changed in 2010 when China's economy surpassed Japan's. China's economic power has translated directly into diplomatic power through public and private investments, and support for abusive governments around the world. The Japanese government's response appears to be to embrace those very same abusive governments.