Japanese troops in Tianjin in 1937.
Anyone offended by my characterisation of Japanese politicians who visited the Yasukuni war criminals shrine over the weekend as ‘assholes’ may want to look away. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has reportedly told lawmakers that he does not believe that Japan’s invasions of other countries during World War II can be considered “invasions”.
Abe claimed that since there are no “international or academic definitions” of invasion “it depends on the point of view of individual countries”. There are no international or academic definitions of ‘fucking idiot’ (probably), but I’m confident in labelling Shinzo Abe a fucking idiot, just as I’m confident – along with all mainstream historians – in labelling the presence of over three million Japanese troops in China from 1937-1945 a fucking invasion*.
The Japanese prime minister’s apparent inability to understand basic concepts of language or history is an attempt to appeal to the country’s insane far right, who loathe then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama’s 1995 apology to all Asian victims of Japanese aggression during WWII.
Experts here slammed Abe’s remarks. Ko Sang-tu at Yonsei University said, “That is simply absurd. It’s like saying Hitler’s invasion of Poland wasn’t really an invasion. If a German chancellor had said the same thing, he or she would have had to resign.”
The Japanese media were critical of [last weekend’s Yasukuni visit]. The Asahi Shimbun urged cabinet members to exercise “restraint” in speech as well as action, while the Mainichi Shimbun warned Japan’s “national interests are at risk” if such strain is put on cooperation with China and South Korea in trying to rein in North Korea.
Japanese politics seems to be in thrall to the country’s most dangerous, most insane elements, at a time when East Asia desperately needs Japan to be the voice of reason.
*Note: The Asahi Shimbum translates Abe’s statement as about “aggression” rather than “invasion”. Abe’s statement is equally stupid with either translation, and he’d be hard pressed to find a rational thinking person who doesn’t categorise over 20 million Chinese dead as “aggression”.