Abe's wishful thinking

Updated: 2013-02-25 07:57

(China Daily)

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged that he will bring back a strong Japan while visiting the United States last week.

This has raised eyebrows, to say the least, in a region that vividly remembers his country's brutal rampage across Asia 70 years ago.

Abe desperately wants Japan to stand tall, yet the case he is trying to make is legally and morally flawed. Abe reiterated his determination to revise Japan's war-renouncing constitution to establish a "national defense force" and asserted Japan's right to collective self-defense, which is prohibited under the Japanese government's current interpretation of the charter.

Abe said Tokyo and Washington will look to enhance cooperation under the bilateral security alliance to ensure peace and stability in the region in the face of an increasingly "belligerent" China.

Although Japan's ground, maritime and air forces are some of the most modern and best equipped in the world, citing a threat from next door as the excuse, the Abe administration plans to increase defense spending for the first time in 11 years. It will boost defense spending to 4.68 trillion yen ($50 billion) in a draft budget for fiscal 2013, up 35.1 billion yen, or 0.8 percent, from the previous fiscal year.

But Abe disingenuously displayed selective amnesia when briefing the Americans on the dispute over the islands in the East China Sea.

Abe hadn't the heart to admit the scandalous truth that Japan wants to hold on to the Diaoyu Islands, which it stole from China. He didn't dare tell them that the Cairo Declaration of 1943 and the Potsdam Proclamation of 1945 obliged Japan to return all the territories it stole from China.

Also, he deliberately buried the fact that China and Japan had what has been described as a "gentlemen's agreement" to shelve the dispute over the islands for future generations to resolve in the years following the restoration of their diplomatic relations.

Abe did this, of course, because he is pinning his hopes on US support in the territorial dispute with China.

But the "robustness of the Japan-US Alliance", which he proclaimed, does not justify Japan's holding on to China's islands. Nor can it intimidate China into abandoning its sovereign territory.

(China Daily 02/25/2013 page8)