If Abe has his way, history would vanish

Updated: 2014-01-15 07:37

By Cai Hong (China Daily)

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If Abe has his way, history would vanish

Japan has been looking over its shoulder since the United States said it was "disappointed that the Japanese leader has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan's neighbors". Japan took it as a "rare" statement and was shocked.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid his first official visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals, on Dec 26. And instead of heeding to the strong protests from China and the Republic of Korea, the Abe administration has been busy trying to deal with the repercussions from the West, especially the US.

A team of bipartisan Japanese lawmakers, led by former foreign minister Hirofumi Nakasone, visited the US recently to convince American officials that Abe's visit to Yasukuni - as the Japanese prime minister put it - was an act designed to "promote peace". Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe's younger brother, is on a visit to the US from Jan 13 to 17 to make American officials "understand" why Abe visited the shrine. The third team is expected to be led by Shotaro Yachi, head of secretariat of the Japanese version of the US National Security Council.

Last year, Asahi Shimbun called Abe a "cocky, aggressive driver". But Abe's nationalistic record tells us that he didn't simply wake up on the morning of Dec 26 and decide it was a great day to communicate with the spirits of dead Japanese soldiers. He chose the day to commemorate his one year in office and knew full well the consequences of his action.

Irrespective of its motive, the US this time has warned Japanese leaders against visiting Yasukuni. During their trip to Japan in October, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave Yasukuni the skip and visited the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery, which houses the remains of more than 350,000 unidentified Japanese who died in World War II. The US officials demonstrated how respect can be paid to the war dead even without visiting Yasukuni.

Besides, when Abe's adviser Seiichi Eto visited the US in November last year, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel told him that Abe would hurt bilateral ties if he visited Yasukuni.

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