Abe's duplicitous visit to Pearl Harbor more about forgetting than reconciling

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-12-27 09:06

"Part of the reason for his comments about history directed to the United States and other nations lies in the view held abroad of Abe as a historical revisionist. Although his main support base within Japan consists of conservative elements, those in the prime minister's office feel Abe can gain support among the more liberal side of Japan by visiting Pearl Harbor along with Obama, who has voiced the goal of seeking a nuclear-free world," the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said in a recent editorial on the matter.

"At the same time, Abe made clear that the visit to Pearl Harbor was an effort at strategic diplomacy' rather than one involving apology," the popular daily newspaper said.

And criticism for Abe's inauthenticity has come from all sides, including the United States. The Japan Times in a recent article on the matter quoted US Navy veteran Louis Conter, who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, as saying that Abe should indeed offer an apology for Japan's furtive attack that propelled the US into the war.

"I have no bad feeling toward the Japanese. But Abe should face up to history and apologize, Conter, 95, said in a recent interview at the site of the USS Arizona, which was sunk in the Imperial Japanese Navy's raid.

But as with all of Japan's wartime wrongdoings, Abe's "no apology" stance remains unrelenting. The attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base on the island of Oahu in Hawaii in 1941 killed some 2,400 US military personnel and civilians, and Abe's "theatrics" to honor those who died may well be nauseating for some US military veterans, but it will be doubly so for other countries and victims that Japan brutalized in the past and has since completely ignored as per its revisionist agenda.

Nippon Kaigi, to which Abe himself and the majority of his Cabinet and a number of influential members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party-led bloc are unabashed members of, describes itself as existing to: "Change the postwar national consciousness based on the Tokyo Tribunal's view of history as a fundamental problem" and to "revise the current Constitution," and sees its mission as to "promote patriotic education, the revision of the Constitution of Japan, and support for prime ministers' official visits to Yasukuni Shrine".

Based on this, political pundits here attest that not only are Abe's gestures to "mourn" or "pacify" those it abused and persecuted in the past, as is the case in Pearl Harbor, and was with the "comfort women" issue in South Korea recently, disingenuous. His modus operandi is one that sees "reconciliation" as tantamount to simply "forgetting" and making sure that generations to come in Japan and the world forget as well.

Yujin Yaguchi, a professor of American studies at the University of Tokyo, explicated how the current Abe-led administration adheres to a warped principle of denying and not facing history squarely, while setting about institutionally revising it, so that the true facts may one day be forgotten once and for all.

"By commemorating Pearl Harbor, if the whole society marginalizes the whole process that led to Pearl Harbor, that commemoration becomes an act of forgetting as well," explained Yaguchi.

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