香山リカのココロの万華鏡:利己的なおとなたちへ /東京

August 16, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Learning not to jump to generalizations
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:利己的なおとなたちへ /東京

Twitter has become a tool even among politicians to express their opinions. A tweet recently posted by a House of Representatives lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has stirred controversy. He wrote that claims made by students protesting against the government-sponsored security-related bills are "based on their self-centered and extremely egoistic thinking that they don't want to go to war," and he went on to say that it was "very regrettable."

After learning about this incident, I thought to myself that this politician could only understand war as a general, abstract concept. A war in reality is not "a battle between right and wrong." Those who fight in the front are young people with different personalities and dreams. Behind those youths, furthermore, are their families and lovers. If a young man dies in a battle, people around him will also face drastic changes in their lives.

Though it is different from the topic of war, I always think about the effects of generalizations. It is easy to say, "depression is on the rise because people have become weaker," and speak in generalities, but each patient is in a different situation, faced with different problems.

Suppose there is a man who is a breadwinner in a family and he goes to see a doctor after developing depression. The doctor tells him, "Generally speaking, if the cause of depression is work-related stress, a person would not feel better unless the burden placed on them is released." What if he quits his job after seeing the doctor? There will be a significant impact on his family -- they may have to sell their house, the children may have to transfer to different schools, the daughter's wedding may be called off, and ultimately this could lead to the parents' divorce. People's lives may be ruined by a casual suggestion by a doctor.

I can't always pay attention to the details of every single patient I see, but I tell myself at my clinic, "I should not just give out general opinions. I have to pay attention to individual situations."

At Rikkyo University in Tokyo, where I currently work as a professor, a committee of faculty and staff members of the university released a statement against the controversial security-related bills with nearly 1,000 people signing to support the movement. In the statement, there is the following passage:

"War is not an abstract idea. It means young people with names face each other on the battlefield and kill each other."

Today, teens and people in their 20s are not seeing war as something in the past or some generalities, but rather as something real, which they themselves may be dragged into.

For adults who can only consider young people's desire of not wanting to go to war as "selfish" and "egoistical," I recommend reading diaries, or even one memo, written by student soldiers who perished in the Pacific War and think about the lives of those who died.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2015年08月11日 地方版


GDPマイナス 景気の停滞を長引かせるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Govt must take all possible steps to end lull in economic recovery
GDPマイナス 景気の停滞を長引かせるな

The national economy has been on a path of mild recovery, but its prospects have turned uncertain.
The real-term gross domestic product for the April-June quarter declined 0.4 percent from the previous quarter for an annualized fall of 1.6 percent, according to preliminary figures released by the Cabinet Office, representing the first negative growth in three quarters.

The slump in personal consumption and exports is a major reason behind the poor economic performance. Plant and equipment investment, which holds the key to full-scale growth, also declined, albeit slightly, for the first time in three quarters. Some analysts have pointed out that Japan has entered a lull in its business recovery.

The important thing is not to let the lull drag on. The government and the Bank of Japan must closely examine possible risky factors and do what it takes to prevent business from losing its steam.

Private consumption — the pillar of domestic demand — dropped by 0.8 percent in the April-June period, compared with the previous quarter, marking the first quarterly fall since the April-June quarter of last year, when personal consumption plunged due to the impact of the consumption tax hike to 8 percent.

Economic revitalization minister Akira Amari cited the light vehicle tax hike and unseasonable weather as reasons for the shrinkage of consumption, indicating that the decline was “caused largely by temporary factors.”

But it must be noted that the benefits of wage hikes have been offset by the continued rise in prices of food and other products, a consequence of high raw material prices amid the yen’s weakening. It is certain that households have become more budget-minded. Perhaps consumers have yet to break away from the bearish mind-set ingrained during long years of deflation.

Excessive pessimism is unwarranted, but the government must analyze factors behind slack consumption from a multifaceted viewpoint and work out improvement measures.

Alarming overseas factors

A more alarming factor is the slowdown of overseas economies. It is necessary to keep a close watch especially on the volatile Chinese economy.

China has posted a conspicuous slowdown of such economic indicators as industrial production and construction investment. Affected by this, the growth in emerging Asian countries has begun to slacken. The dull overseas demand, centering on China, has been dampening Japan’s exports.

Given that the People’s Bank of China devalued the yuan on three consecutive days last week, many market dealers concluded that the Chinese economy has been worsening more seriously than expected. A loss of steam in China’s growth would have a big impact on the world economy.

Some point out that an increase of interest rates in the United States, which can be expected within this year, will trigger outflows of a huge amount of funds from emerging economies. Thus, the uncertainties in economic prospects have been increasing.

To survive economic disturbances that originate overseas, the Japanese economy’s fundamental power of growth must be urgently augmented.

It is also essential to enhance the motivation and vigor of the private sector. We suggest that the government expedite the implementation of growth strategies, including promotion of plant and equipment investment that will improve productivity and deregulation that can help expand growth industries.

It is right for the government to aim for a virtuous circle in which corporate profits are passed on to workers in the form of wage hikes and this leads to expanded consumption. To ensure this is realized, the government should steadily carry out measures that can deepen this dimension of the Abenomics economic policy package.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 18, 2015)


(社説)マイナス成長 危うい政策目標と想定

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 18
EDITORIAL: Dismal GDP data highlights need to review policy targets
(社説)マイナス成長 危うい政策目標と想定

Japan’s economy shrank during the three months from April through June, its first decline in three quarters. The nation’s real gross domestic product--the value of total economic output adjusted for price changes--fell 0.4 percent during the quarter from the previous three months, according to preliminary data released Aug. 17 by the Cabinet Office. At this rate, the size of economic contraction will reach 1.6 percent on an annualized basis.

Consumer spending dropped in spite expectations of continued recovery. That is because a weaker yen triggered increases in the prices of food and other daily products while wage growth was weaker than expected. This only added to the financial burden on households.

Exports declined for the first time in six quarters, even though they were expected to grow due to the effects of a weaker yen that makes Japanese products cheaper in overseas markets.

The consensus view was that the economy had been recovering gradually since the consumption tax rate increase in April last year, which depressed consumer spending.

The fall in GDP was not caused by any specific factor that delivered a body blow to the economy.

Rather, overall economic conditions were relatively good during the period.

Corporate earnings improved further and the stock market rebounded.

Job growth was strong.

A surge of foreign visitors to Japan was a big boon to related businesses.

The Bank of Japan continued its aggressive monetary easing, while public works spending remained at a high level.

The contraction in the April-June quarter offers some important clues to what's going on in the Japanese economy.
Despite this favorable environment, the economy failed to expand.

And yes, there was some destabilizing factors in the world economy.

In Europe, the debt crisis in Greece caused serious confusion. China’s economic slowdown became more pronounced.

But these external factors are not temporary in nature. We should probably assume that instability in the global economy will continue for a while.

If so, it is hard to expect a dramatic rise in exports or a further sharp increase in spending in Japan by foreign tourists in the coming months. In short, we should not place too much hope on growth in external demand.

In its policy efforts to restore fiscal sanity, the government is pursuing a target of a primary surplus--a situation where government tax revenue exceeds all its spending other than net interest--in fiscal 2020.

In setting the target, however, the government assumed that the economy would pull off a strong real growth of 2 percent and expand by 3 percent in nominal terms.

A tough-minded analysis of Japan’s economic reality behind its negative growth during the April-June period, however, makes clear that it is risky to bet on any significant economic expansion in planning and executing policy measures to dig the nation out of a budget hole that is driving accumulated debt to dangerous levels.

The latest GDP data also offers valuable reference information for the Bank of Japan, which has continued to provide huge monetary stimulus to the economy with an eye to achieving an inflation target of 2 percent.

The central bank started the radical monetary expansion campaign on the assumption that consumers will ramp up their spending when they expect prices to rise. Increased consumer spending then should bolster economic growth by pushing up overall domestic demand, according to the BOJ’s scenario.

But Japanese consumers have not behaved as the BOJ expected. It has become increasingly clear that the central bank’s monetary policy is not working.

The latest economic data points to the need for both the government and the BOJ to revise their growth and inflation projections so they are more in line with the reality and then readjust their economic strategy and monetary policy accordingly.


戦没者追悼式 「深い反省」を世界の平和に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Emperor’s ‘feelings of deep remorse’ must be taken to heart for world peace
戦没者追悼式 「深い反省」を世界の平和に

We must not forget that Japan’s peace and prosperity after World War II have been built on the enormous sacrifices of the people who lost their lives in the war.

Events were held throughout the country on Aug. 15, the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, to honor the souls of the war dead, who number an estimated 3.1 million. In the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, the National Memorial Service for the War Dead was held that day under the sponsorship of the government and in the presence of the Emperor and the Empress.

In his address at the commemorative ceremony, the Emperor said, “Reflecting on our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse over the last war, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never be repeated.”
“[I] pray for world peace and for the continuing development of our country,” he said.

The words “deep remorse” were newly incorporated into the Emperor’s address for this year’s national commemoration ceremony. This can be said to reflect the Emperor’s feelings toward the last war.

In his New Year’s address this January, the Emperor emphasized, “It is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war, starting with the Manchurian Incident of 1931, as we consider the future direction of our country.”

This can be taken as an expression of his Imperial Majesty’s desire to link the lessons of the war to Japan’s peace by reflecting upon the past.

The Emperor saw the war’s end at the age of 11 in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, where he was evacuated. He has been quoted as saying that when he returned to Tokyo, the capital had been reduced to “completely burnt-out ruins, which stand out especially clearly in my memory.”

As a member of the generation that experienced the war first-hand, the Emperor likely has special feelings for the bereaved families of the war dead.

Preserve historic shelter

In April this year, the Emperor and the Empress made an official visit to the island of Peleliu in the Republic of Palau, which was one of the fiercest battlefields in the war. The Imperial couple laid flowers at both the Japanese and U.S. memorials.

The way the Imperial couple are squarely and sincerely facing the scars left by the war this year, the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, has made strong impressions both at home and abroad.

The Imperial Household Agency recently made public the master record and audio of the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War that then Emperor Hirohito, posthumously called Emperor Showa, announced via radio broadcast to the public. They were made public at the Emperor and Empress’ suggestion that the advisability of replaying the recording of the rescript be considered, according to the agency.

Also made public were photos and video footage of an underground air-raid shelter in the Imperial Palace, which was referred to as “Obunko fuzoku shitsu” (Room attached to the Imperial shelter), where Emperor Showa made a “sacred” Imperial decision to bring the war to an end. Its current state, with crumbled floors and fallen wall coverings, conveys the passage of a great deal of time.

In accordance with Emperor Showa’s personal desire that the shelter be not maintained, the room has reportedly never been repaired. But considering that the shelter was an important historical setting, the government may be better advised to study the wisdom of preserving it.

Of the about 5,000 bereaved relatives who attended the national memorial ceremony this year, about 60 percent were children of the war dead. Many children of the war dead are now older than 80.

Spouses of the war dead accounted for no more than 15 of the attendees.

The generation that personally experienced the war is aging rapidly. Steps must be taken to ensure that the memories of the miseries of the war are handed down to the next generation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 16, 2015)


終戦70年 平和の堅持へ国際協調貫こう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Enhance international cooperation to guard peace
終戦70年 平和の堅持へ国際協調貫こう


Aug. 15 this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

We should take this occasion to offer silent, sincere prayers for the repose of the souls of more than 3 million people who perished against their will in that terrible conflict, while renewing our resolve for peace.

Mayor Tomihisa Taue of Nagasaki, in a Peace Declaration he issued on Aug. 9, made reference to the security-related bills, stating, “There is widespread unease and concern that ... the peaceful ideology of the Constitution of Japan [is] now wavering.” He went on to say, “I urge the government and the Diet to listen to these voices of unease and concern ... and conduct careful and sincere deliberations.”

Bills misunderstood

The set of security-related bills centering around endorsement of the exercise of Japan’s right of collective self-defense is aimed at ensuring Japan’s peace and security through strengthening defense cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces and others.

It is regrettable that the bills’ aim has been taken as meaning the exact opposite.

Japan in the past 70 years has never been involved in any war, including the period of Cold War between East and West and the post-Cold War days. This record was not achieved simply by the grace of the pacifism based on the Constitution.

Of greater significance are efforts to found the SDF in 1954 to upgrade the country’s defense capabilities in a way better suited to the changing times, and to revise in 1960 the Japan-U.S. security treaty to steadily strengthen the bilateral alliance.

The Japan-U.S. alliance has now been broadly recognized as an international public good conducive to stabilizing the Asian region as a whole.

Examples illustrating the crucial importance of military might and deterrent power for the sake of defending a country’s territory and its populace are innumerable indeed, including the Korean War, the incursion by the former Soviet Union into Afghanistan, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

A belief that peace can be secured merely by desiring “peace for all time” and “trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world” as stipulated in the preamble of the Constitution is no better than an idealistic theory that disregards the harsh realities of international relations.

Before the war, Japan withdrew from the the League of Nations, which was groping for ways of materializing the ideal of collective security, deliberately shattering the world order at that time.

After the war, this county, because of soul-searching about that wartime past, placed excessively strict constraints on the activities of the SDF.

There can be no denying that many Japanese, dependent on the United States for the nation’s security policy while blessed with peace and prosperity under the U.S.-led international order, have been apt to drift into a state of being unable to think about what should be done to secure the country’s peace and security.

Record of trust

The turning point came with the 1991 Gulf War. The SDF was dispatched after the fighting ended to conduct minesweeping operations and has since been involved in U.N. peacekeeping operations. The SDF built up a solid track record and steadily earned the trust of other nations.

The new security-related legislation, which will expand the international activities of the SDF, is an extension of this. As well as rectifying the previously overcautious interpretation of the Constitution, Japan must play its part as a nation willing to support the new international order and fulfill an appropriate level of responsibility.

The United Nations, which will mark the 70th anniversary of its founding in October, is prone to dysfunction for reasons including the veto power held by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. It is often a stretch to say the United Nations is effectively playing a role in resolving international disputes.

At present, China is trumpeting its self-righteous logic in the East China and South China seas, where it is attempting to change the status quo through force. Russia is doing the same in Ukraine. Both of these nations, backed up by their massive military might, ignore international criticism of their behavior.

For Japan, China’s military buildup and maritime expansion are serious problems. If China’s defense budget continues to grow at its current pace, in five years it will be more than four times the size of Japan’s defense budget; a decade from now, it will be almost seven times the size.

North Korea possesses several hundred ballistic missiles that can reach Japan. The threat of terrorism is spreading, as exemplified by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant extremist group.

To ensure Japan remains safe from these threats, it is essential to pass the security bills into law and strengthen multilayered cooperation with the United States, Australia and nations in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Diplomacy and military affairs are closely connected with each other and form a complementary pair. Making it possible for the SDF to provide a seamless response to any situation will help prevent conflict from erupting and provide backing to support peaceful diplomacy that stabilizes the region.

Critics in some quarters have claimed the security-related bills will “make Japan a nation that can once again wage war” and “return the nation to the prewar days.” These assertions can only be described as twisted interpretations.

Japan firmly pacifist

Modern-day Japan is decisively different from prewar Japan in several ways. Now, Japan stands staunchly by the pacifism enshrined in the Constitution, rejects aggression and territorial expansion, and attaches great weight to international cooperation. Civilian control of the SDF remains firmly in place.

Allowing the exercise of the right of collective self-defense, as stipulated in the new security-related bills, and expanding the SDF’s humanitarian and reconstruction support activities overseas and the logistic support it can provide to military forces of other nations, will all help reinforce international solidarity.

This is precisely why the overwhelming majority of nations — with the notable exceptions of China and South Korea, which have rifts with Japan over perceptions of history — highly regard and support the content of the legislation.

Nations have extremely high expectations for the “proactive contribution to peace based on the principle of international cooperation” put forward by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The prime minister should redouble his efforts to explain the significance and necessity of the security-related bills to the public and gain greater understanding of the legislation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 14, 2015)


戦後70年談話 歴史の教訓胸に未来を拓こう


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Let’s take to our hearts the lessons of history
戦後70年談話 歴史の教訓胸に未来を拓こう


We positively evaluate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II for clearly showing the new course Japan will take based on its remorse for the war.

The statement was approved by the Cabinet on Friday.

The statement is significant to convey to the world what Japan is doing. Explaining Japan’s perception of history properly in discussing its future will increase the trust and expectations of the international community in this country.

In the prime minister’s statement, “aggression,” which is considered one of the keywords, was clearly specified.

Using ‘aggression’

“Incident, aggression, war — we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes,” the statement said. “With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge.”

It is significant that the prime minister has clearly admitted “aggression.” This means he has adhered to the views expressed in past statements made by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war’s end and by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the 60th anniversary.

Actions by the defunct Imperial Japanese Army after the 1931 Manchurian Incident were nothing but aggression. They also violated the 1928 General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, an international pact that prohibited any war except one for self-defense.

Particularly, attacks on Jinzhou, a city in northeastern China, by Japan’s Kwantung Army in October 1931 were indiscriminate bombings of civilians without prior warning and constituted violations of the Hague Convention with respect to the Laws and Customs of War on Land. Targets of Japan’s air raids were expanded to Shanghai, Nanjing and Chongqing, significantly increasing the death toll of noncombatants.

We must never forget that the then Japanese government allowed part of the military to act on its own and ignited the disastrous war.

“Politics must be humble to history,” the prime minister said at a press conference after reading the statement. “History must not be distorted with political or diplomatic intentions.”

This remark was pertinent.

Admitting the objective fact of “aggression” is not a masochistic view of history nor will it disgrace Japan. Rather, it will increase the trust of the international community in Japan and overcome the doubts of some countries that Japan is engaged in “historical revisionism.”

Also, the statement said, “We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.”

As for people victimized in Japan or other countries by the war, the statement said, “I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.”

This wording, which partially follows that made by a German leader, amounts to an expression equivalent to an “apology” in the Murayama statement and others. Abe’s sincere feelings were fully conveyed.

Abe referred to the views of the Murayama statement and others by saying that “Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war,” adding, “Such a position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.”

Women’s rights

Some neighboring countries may not be satisfied with the wording of the statement. Even so, this does not mean that the statement should avoid references to remorse and apology.

It is important to convey the current thinking of Japan to the international community, including Europe and the United States, thereby expanding world understanding of Japan’s position.

In this sense, it was reasonable for the Abe statement to express heartfelt gratitude toward the help extended by Europe, the United States and China, among others, in the postwar period.

The expression that “we will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honor of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century” is a reference to the so-called comfort women that was made out of consideration to South Korea.

As expressed in the statement, Japan is required to “lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.”

It also emphasized that those generations who have no connection with the war must not be “predestined to apologize.”

It is essential to draw the line on this issue so that Japan will not be called upon to apologize generation after generation. Understanding and self-restraint are called for on the part of China and South Korea in this regard.

Draw line on issue

During the news conference afterward, Abe said efforts were made to compile the statement that “can share the views of as many people as possible.” It can be said that various thoughts about historical perceptions have been aligned and condensed considerably by the statement.

Concerning the future course of Japan, the statement said, the country “will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy and human rights as unyielding values” while reflecting on the past “when Japan ended up becoming the challenger to the international order.”

Hoisting the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” Japan must contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before. This Japanese stance has been supported widely by Europe, the United States and Southeast Asian countries.

While listening to the “voices of history,” Japan must open itself to the future.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 15, 2015)


クローズアップ2015:首相70年談話 歴史認識決着図る 随所に対中配慮


August 15, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Abe makes few references to South Korea in war anniversary statement
クローズアップ2015:首相70年談話 歴史認識決着図る 随所に対中配慮

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for summit meetings with South Korean and Chinese leaders on Aug. 14 as his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II is aimed at resolving the long-running standoff with China, South Korea and other countries over perceptions of wartime history.

Nevertheless, while incorporating his consideration for China into many parts of the statement, Abe made only a few references to South Korea. The Japanese government is poised to carefully see how the two Asian neighbors will respond to the statement.

"Because South Korea is a neighboring country, we have various issues with them. But we must not shut the door for dialogue. Because there are issues, we should hold a summit meeting," Abe said on an NHK news program on the evening of Aug. 14.

On Japan's relations with South Korea, Abe emphasized that he had also given consideration to South Korea in the statement, saying, "I said in the statement that 'the dignity and honor of many women were severely injured.'" Abe incorporated his consideration for China in the statement with such passages as "the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war." But he made direct mention of South Korea only once in the statement along with other countries and regions such as Taiwan and China. Abe apparently tried to explain the "gap" in reference to China and South Korea in the statement.

The government is exploring the possibility of Abe visiting China in September and holding his first summit meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Abe said in a news conference after releasing the war anniversary statement, "I want the people of China to accept our country's frank feelings 70 years after the end of the war as they stand. If there is an opportunity of a summit, I would like to take advantage of it."

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida called his South Korean, British, French and Australian counterparts to explain the content of the statement. Administrative Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki met U.S., Chinese and South Korean ambassadors to Japan to convey the content of the statement. South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se was quoted as telling Kishida, "We will share the statement within the government of the Republic of Korea." Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua was quoted as telling Saiki that he would convey it to the Chinese government.

A senior government official expressed confidence that China and South Korea would take the statement positively, saying, "It was thoroughly thought out." Another high-ranking government official said, "The word 'deep repentance' goes further than the expressions used in previous statements. If the Chinese and South Korean governments say something, they will be isolated."

On the evening of Aug. 14, Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Komeito, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, told reporters, "There is a highly significant meaning in that a Cabinet decision was made to the effect that the position taken by the previous governments will be taken over and remain unshakable into the future while using such key words as aggression and colonial rule." On the fact that the key words used in the statement represent indirect expressions rather than those of Abe's own, Yamaguchi said, "It is clear that he pledged that Japan will never use force or threaten again."

Hidetsugu Yagi, a conservative polemicist and professor at Reitaku University who is close to Abe, said on a BS NTV program on the evening of Aug. 14, "I want to rate it extremely high." He went on to say, "It relativized the statements by (then Prime Minister Tomiichi) Murayama and (then Prime Minister Junichiro) Koizumi and overwrote them. The Murayama statement has become just one of the statements issued by previous Cabinets and recovered by the Abe statement."

Those comments show that Komeito, which called for Abe to stick to the Murayama statement, and conservatives who called on Abe to relativize the Murayama statement, are both giving high marks for the Abe statement. A senior Komeito official said, "It is significant that conservative Prime Minister Abe said the statements by the previous Cabinets were 'unshakable into the future'." It is based on the view that particularly because Abe is seen as a conservative hardliner, he could rein in the backlash from conservatives even if he take a flexible stance.

However, the government of Prime Minister Abe will have no option but to deal with difficult issues such as efforts to enact security-related bills, intensive negotiations over the relocation of the U.S. Marines' Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. Prime Minister Abe will also need to clear many other hurdles as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is to hold a leadership election in September, followed by a Cabinet reshuffle and the formation of a new lineup of LDP executives.


クローズアップ2015:首相70年談話 安倍カラーを抑制 安保審議が誤算


August 15, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Abe refrains from showing political stripe in anniversary statement
クローズアップ2015:首相70年談話 安倍カラーを抑制 安保審議が誤算
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refrained from explicitly exhibiting his political stripe in his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II due to a shaky political base as exemplified by declining approval ratings.

Abe had initially planned to play up a future-oriented message but opted instead to devote the bulk of his statement to perceptions of history in consideration of the potential effects on Diet deliberations on security bills as well as ties with junior coalition partner Komeito. But he did not mention as his own historical perceptions ''aggression,'' ''colonial rule,'' ''apology'' and other key words and phrases, which appeared in then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's 50th anniversary statement in 1995.

Many people had closely followed if Abe in his statement would mention four key words and phrases -- ''aggression,'' ''colonial rule,'' ''deep remorse'' and ''heartfelt apology.''

Abe's statement did not quote a portion of the Murayama statement that says ''through its (Japan's) colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.'' Instead, Abe said, ''Incident, aggression, war -- we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes'' without elaborating on how he recognizes aggression. He also stated, ''We shall abandon colonial rule forever'' without making any reference to Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

As for ''remorse'' and ''apology,'' the prime minister declared that ''Such a position articulated by the previous Cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.'' But he did not issue an apology in his statement. He went on to say ''We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.'' This position appears to reflect the view of Abe and his aides and advisers, including Tomomi Inada, chairwoman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s Policy Research Council who said Aug. 11 that she senses that something is not right for Japan to keep apologizing forever.

The Abe statement was a product of hard work as it contained essential words and phrases and took into consideration Komeito and neighboring countries as well as the right-wing element, Abe's main support base.

Abe is understood to have had no intention to mention ''aggression.'' Abe said during a meeting of the House of Councillors Budget Committee in April 2013 that his Cabinet would not inherit the Murayama statement per se. However, he said later that he would inherit the Murayama statement as a whole. He also said he sees no need to write another anniversary statement, suggesting he would prepare a statement to focus on the path Japan has taken over the past 70 years since the end of World War II and Japan's future.

Abe had considered issuing a statement in a quiet atmosphere after winning passage of security legislation by early August. At one point, Abe had contemplated issuing a statement without a Cabinet decision to clearly mirror his own perception of history.

But parliamentary deliberations on the security bills have protracted. Three constitutional scholars told the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution on June 4 that the security bills violate the postwar Constitution. Then, young LDP lawmakers, during a study session, made remarks about suppressing the media, causing the Cabinet's support rate to plunge.

The Abe government was forced to extend the Diet session through Sept. 27. In a Mainichi poll in July, the Abe Cabinet's disapproval rating topped the approval rating by a margin of 43 percent to 42 percent for the first time since the inauguration of the current Abe Cabinet in December 2012. The approval rating fell to 32 percent in a Mainichi survey in August.

For the Abe government and the LDP, Komeito's full-scale backing is essential amid dwindling support as they prepare for the upper house election next summer. The Abe government went along with Komeito's request for Cabinet approval because of the possibility that Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota, a Komeito lawmaker, may be questioned in the Diet about perceptions of the Abe statement. There were also conservative LDP lawmakers loyal to Abe who demanded a 70th anniversary statement to be adopted by the Cabinet, like the Murayama statement.

When Abe briefed Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi during a meeting on Aug. 7 about a draft statement without referring to an apology, Yamaguchi asked Abe to issue a statement which conveys the inheritance of the previous prime ministerial statements to domestic and international audiences. Abe later telephoned Yamaguchi to say he will change the draft to include an apology. Abe also met U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Aug. 10 and appeared to have sought her understanding.

The prime minister had initially thought of issuing a future-oriented statement to demonstrate his leadership in foreign policy vis-a-vis China and South Korea and at home. But the fact of the matter is that he was forced to refrain himself in preparing the statement due to the aggravating climate surrounding his government.

An LDP lawmaker said Prime Minister Abe's top priority is the enactment of the security legislation. If his statement were a radical one to irritate Komeito and China and South Korea, it would have affected Diet debate, the lawmaker said, adding Abe subsequently compromised because his administration is almost up against the wall.


(社説)戦後70年の安倍談話 何のために出したのか

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 15
EDITORIAL: Abe’s war anniversary statement falls way short of the mark
(社説)戦後70年の安倍談話 何のために出したのか

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has left us wondering for what purpose and for whom it was written.

Issued Aug. 14, the statement falls grossly short as an accounting to sum up Japan’s modern history on the occasion of this landmark anniversary.

The statement includes all of the terms that had been singled out as crucial elements and were the main focus of international attention: aggression, colonial rule, remorse and apology.

But the statement somewhat obscures the fact that Japan was the country that committed the aggression and carried out colonial rule.

The document referred to remorse and apology for the war only indirectly by mentioning the fact that past Cabinets expressed these sentiments.

We feel strongly that the Abe administration did not have to issue, or rather, should not have issued this flawed statement.


The Abe statement struck us as an awkward compromise between the views about history held by him and his supporters and the hard and weighty historical facts.

The statement issued in 1995 by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war has been internationally recognized as a document describing the Japanese government’s views about the nation’s wartime past. Its most important feature is that it clearly acknowledged Japan’s act of aggression and candidly expressed remorse for the nation’s past and apologies to peoples of Asian countries.

In contrast, the Abe statement referred to Japan’s aggression in the following passage.

“Incident, aggression, war--we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”

This declaration, in itself, is not wrong, of course. But this clearly represents a back down from the position set by the Murayama statement, which Abe himself had pledged to uphold.

Even a report drawn up by a panel of personal advisers to Abe appointed to offer advice over the war commemorative statement made a clear reference to Japan’s aggression on the Asian continent.

The new statement is also a back down from how past prime ministers of the Liberal Democratic Party who held office before the Murayama statement described Japan’s wartime behavior. These leaders said to the effect that there was no denying Japan’s aggressive acts, even if they didn’t use the word “aggression.”

Much the same is true with the issue of apology.

Abe’s statement says, “We must not let our children, grandchildren and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.”

Many Japanese certainly have the feeling of how long Japan has had to keep apologizing. On the other hand, China and South Korea have their reasons to keep demanding that Japan apologize.

Although the Japanese government has expressed remorse and apology, ministers and other top government officials repeatedly made remarks that cast doubt over the government’s statements. Prime ministers and other politicians paid many visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war criminals along with general war dead. Japan itself has done things that undermine the credibility of its own words.


If he wants to relieve Japan from the burden of having to keep apologizing, Abe, who is suspected by the international community to have biased views about history, should have gracefully offered his own apologies to end the cycle of negative sentiment that has been straining the relationship between Japanese and the peoples of other Asian nations. It is a pity that he failed to make that decision.

Aside from the content of the statement, the political process leading to the release of the document was a depressingly sad spectacle of flip-flopping by the administration.

Immediately after returning to power, Abe began expressing his desire to issue a “future-oriented statement fit for the 21st century.” His remarks indicated his intention to replace the history perceptions displayed by the Murayama statement with his own.

As this move caused serious concern to not only China and South Korea, but also the United States, Abe tilted toward issuing only his personal statement without official Cabinet endorsement.

But some close aides to Abe and Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, voiced an objection to the idea, saying that such a statement would not represent the government’s official position.
Abe then decided to have the statement approved by the Cabinet after all. It was distressing to see the administration change its mind repeatedly on the milestone statement.

Meanwhile, Western scholars as well as Japanese researchers called for Japan’s “unbiased” accounting of past wrongs. In opinion polls, a majority of Japanese also said the statement should acknowledge Japan’s “aggression” and other past wrongdoings.

In the first place, whether it is approved by the Cabinet or not, the prime minister’s statement cannot be cast merely as his “personal view.”

The statement is inevitably taken by the international community as Japan’s official view about its past based on the people’s collective will.

After making a wrongheaded and miserably failed move to turn the statement into his personal credo, Abe pathetically ended up issuing a statement that is fuzzy about the responsibility for aggression and his intention to offer an apology.


It is simply impossible for Abe to push through a major revision to the standard history perceptions that have been accepted by many Japanese and the international community by taking advantage of the ruling camp’s majority control of the Diet.

Abe has been stressing the need to adopt a future-oriented attitude toward history. But making the present and the future better than the past requires coming to terms with the past.
From this point of view, there are still many problems concerning Japan’s past that have been left unsolved, despite the urgent need to settle them.

The biggest of these problems concerns Yasukuni Shrine and the issue of how the government should mourn the war dead.

Diplomatic friction over Yasukuni has eased somewhat recently because Abe has not visited the Shinto shrine since the end of 2013.
But the issue will flare up immediately if he pays it another visit.

Even so, there has been no notable political move toward finding a solution to this problem.

No political consensus has been reached on any possible solution to the issue of “comfort women.” There has also been no progress either on the problem of the past abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, with which Japan has no formal diplomatic relationship. Tokyo’s negotiations with Moscow for a settlement of the territorial dispute over the Northern Territories, a group of islands off Hokkaido controlled by Russia, have become bogged down.

While it has spent so much time and energy on a statement that did not have to be issued, the administration has done little to tackle these history related problems, which are crying out for effective political actions for solutions amid the aging of the Japanese and peoples of neighboring countries who experienced firsthand the ravages of war.

We cannot help but wonder for what purpose and for whom the administration is making its policy efforts. Its priorities are totally wrong.

The blame for this wretched situation should be borne by Abe himself.


Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 内閣総理大臣談話

Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Friday, August 14, 2015

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.

 More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.

 After World War I, which embroiled the world, the movement for self-determination gained momentum and put brakes on colonization that had been underway. It was a horrible war that claimed as many as ten million lives. With a strong desire for peace stirred in them, people founded the League of Nations and brought forth the General Treaty for Renunciation of War. There emerged in the international community a new tide of outlawing war itself.

 At the beginning, Japan, too, kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan's economy suffered a major blow. In such circumstances, Japan's sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

 With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

 And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated.

 On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.

 More than three million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war: on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families; in remote foreign countries after the war, in extreme cold or heat, suffering from starvation and disease. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on Tokyo and other cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others, took a heavy toll among ordinary citizens without mercy.

 Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.

 Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering. History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream, and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.

 The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices. And therein lies the origin of postwar Japan.

 We must never again repeat the devastation of war.

 Incident, aggression, war -- we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.

 With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge. Upon it, we have created a free and democratic country, abided by the rule of law, and consistently upheld that pledge never to wage a war again. While taking silent pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation for as long as seventy years, we remain determined never to deviate from this steadfast course.

 Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war. In order to manifest such feelings through concrete actions, we have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbours: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others; and we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war.

 Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.

 However, no matter what kind of efforts we may make, the sorrows of those who lost their family members and the painful memories of those who underwent immense sufferings by the destruction of war will never be healed.

 Thus, we must take to heart the following.

 The fact that more than six million Japanese repatriates managed to come home safely after the war from various parts of the Asia-Pacific and became the driving force behind Japan’s postwar reconstruction; the fact that nearly three thousand Japanese children left behind in China were able to grow up there and set foot on the soil of their homeland again; and the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.

 How much emotional struggle must have existed and what great efforts must have been necessary for the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war and for the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military in order for them to be so tolerant nevertheless?

 That is what we must turn our thoughts to reflect upon.

 Thanks to such manifestation of tolerance, Japan was able to return to the international community in the postwar era. Taking this opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the nations and all the people who made every effort for reconciliation.

 In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.

 Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were able to survive in a devastated land in sheer poverty after the war. The future they brought about is the one our current generation inherited and the one we will hand down to the next generation. Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations, which Japan had fiercely fought against as enemies.

 We must pass this down from generation to generation into the future. We have the great responsibility to take the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, to carve out a better future, and to make all possible efforts for the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world.

 We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan attempted to break its deadlock with force. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same. As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war, Japan will fulfil its responsibility in the international community, aiming at the non-proliferation and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.

 We will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honour of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Upon this reflection, Japan wishes to be a country always at the side of such women’s injured hearts. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.

 We will engrave in our hearts the past, when forming economic blocs made the seeds of conflict thrive. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to develop a free, fair and open international economic system that will not be influenced by the arbitrary intentions of any nation. We will strengthen assistance for developing countries, and lead the world toward further prosperity. Prosperity is the very foundation for peace. Japan will make even greater efforts to fight against poverty, which also serves as a hotbed of violence, and to provide opportunities for medical services, education, and self-reliance to all the people in the world.

 We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan ended up becoming a challenger to the international order. Upon this reflection, Japan will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights as unyielding values and, by working hand in hand with countries that share such values, hoist the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.

 Heading toward the 80th, the 90th and the centennial anniversary of the end of the war, we are determined to create such a Japan together with the Japanese people.

August 14, 2015

 Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
内閣総理大臣  安倍 晋三







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