O Primeiro-ministro do Japão, Shinzo Abe, está pondo em prática uma estratégia de inserção internacional baseada no nacionalismo e no revisionismo histórico, alarmando os países vizinhos e mesmo os Estados Unidos.
Coreia do Norte condena atitudes do Primeiro-Ministro japonês Shinzo Abe, comparando-o a Hitler. Abe vem tentando remover as restrições constitucionais ao desenvolvimento das forças armadas do Japão e recentemente realizou uma visita polêmica a memorial da 2ª Guerra Mundial.
Primeiro-ministro do Japão Shinzo Abe reafirmou suas intenções de revisar até 2020 a constituição pacifista do país para que o Japão possa ter forças armadas de fato e não somente forças para defesa. A atual constituição japonesa foi imposta pelos EUA ao término da Segunda Guerra Mundial.
A Coreia do Sul tem muito mais divergências com o Japão, antiga potência colonialista, do que com a China. Expectativa de que o país se alinhe automaticamente com os EUA no caso de um conflito contra a China talvez não seja bem fundada, visto que sul-coreanos estão vendo que, nas disputas deles com os Japão, os EUA fica mais ao lado dos japoneses. Além disso, China já é o maior destino de exportações da Coreia do Sul.
O papel do imperador na política japonesa é para ser meramente simbólico, contudo, Shinzo Abe, atual primeiro-ministro do Japão, e seu partido parecem tentar usar de sua imagem para ganhos políticos. Imperador Akihito não parece concordar com as atitudes e opiniões de Abe.
Emperor’s apparent liberal leanings jar with Japan’s right wing
The Japan Times – 07/12/2013 – por Philip Brasor
In the media debate about the state secrets bill, much has been said about the public’s right to know. Participants in a democratic society must be informed to make decisions in their interest, and critics of the bill, which ostensibly protects matters of national security, believe it will be used to keep people in the dark about anything the government doesn’t want revealed or discussed openly.
But even before there is a law limiting the dispersal of official information, Japanese citizens operate with a built-in filter that controls what an individual believes he or she has a right to say. According to documentary filmmaker Tatsuya Mori, this self-censorship function is a holdover from the prewar regime’s effort to monitor the hearts and minds of the populace, and its main tool in that effort was emperor worship.
In an interview published in the Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 27, Mori talks about the recent controversy surrounding rookie lawmaker Taro Yamamoto, who handed Emperor Akihito a letter during the annual autumn garden party at the Imperial Palace. The actor-turned-politician wanted to draw the Emperor’s attention to the plight of those affected by the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, but by personally giving him a note without obtaining prior permission he was violating protocol. The reaction was swift and hard, and came from across the entire political spectrum.
Yamamoto was admonished by the Diet. Mori thinks his action revealed a “lack of common sense,” but he did not break any laws, regardless of what the ruling Liberal Democratic Party implied. Mori asked a group of university students for their opinion of the incident and everyone said Yamamoto had been “rude,” even “blasphemous.” One student seemed deeply offended by the fact that Yamamoto used “only one hand” to present the letter.
What struck Mori was that all of these young people were born during the current Heisei Era, and yet their approach to the Emperor was effectively no different from the public’s reverence prior to the end of World War II, when Hirohito was considered a deity. He concluded that the “emperor system” (tennō-sei), which was once inculcated by the government, has become “internalized.” All Japanese people carry it with them, as if it were hard-wired into their consciousness. Though they no longer think of the Emperor as a god, they believe he possesses special rights and is cocooned within a matrix of taboos. As a result, he said, they are “docile in the face of authority.”
When the interviewer points out that the Emperor, whose role is defined in the Constitution as being symbolic, is not supposed to be “used” for political purposes, Mori says the Emperor cannot avoid politics. The United States decided not to remove Hirohito after the war so as to make it easier for the Japanese people to accept its authority during the Occupation. He was used by the American military to achieve its goals, just as the wartime Japanese government used him for its own purposes. Though there are still arguments regarding Hirohito’s complicity in the war, blame was borne by Class-A war criminals whose prosecution, most historians agree, was arbitrary.
In April last year, the government celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of the American Occupation with a ceremony attended by the Emperor and Empress. Since the LDP was sponsoring the event, it was politically “using” the Emperor, and when the Imperial couple left the stage, shouts of “Banzai!” — a remnant of emperor worship — erupted from many members of the audience, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Recordings on government websites eventually cut this portion of the ceremony, but not before Mori saw it. When the shouting started, Mori said, “The Emperor looked much more perplexed than when he received the letter from Yamamoto.”
It’s not the first time the Emperor has resisted, passively or actively, the role that some want him to fill. In 2001, during a press conference to mark his birthday, he remarked that he felt close to the Korean Peninsula, since he understood his ancestors came from there. Rumors persist that he wants to visit South Korea but that the government won’t let him, saying it doesn’t want the Emperor to be used politically by South Koreans. But isn’t preventing him from going also motivated by politics?
Mori, who once planned a documentary about the imperial system, likes the Emperor because he appeals to his own liberal leanings, which is why genuine right-wingers, such as former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, aren’t interested in the Emperor as a person. Their agenda really has no use for the kind of open-mindedness the Emperor occasionally demonstrates.
Another progressive pundit, sociologist Shinji Miyadai, said the same thing in a recent interview on Videonews.com, expressing admiration for the Emperor for something he said during the 2004 autumn garden party, which didn’t receive nearly as much attention as the Yamamoto faux pas. Shogi player Kunio Yonenaga, a member of the Tokyo municipal government’s educational committee at the time, proudly told the Emperor that it was his job to make sure all public schools sing the national anthem and raise the flag. The Emperor responded — and everyone heard it clearly — that he hoped Yonenaga wasn’t forcing them to do it.
As Miyadai points out, the administration of Keizo Obuchi had already stated that schools could not be legally compelled to sing the anthem or salute the flag, even if local governments like Tokyo’s have done exactly that, so the Emperor was clarifying the law in front of Yonenaga. What the shogi player said may not have been a breach of protocol, but it was definitely the espousal of an illegal act. And yet he received no criticism in the press or from the government. In contrast, Yamamoto, by handing the Emperor a letter, was advancing an agenda that he not only had the right to advance, but also the responsibility, since it was the basis of the platform on which he had been elected.
“If I had to explain to a foreigner why Yamamoto’s action was a problem,” Miyadai said, “I don’t think I could do it.”
A intensificação dos impasses no Pacífico, especialmente no Mar da China Oriental, é vista por Pequim e Seul como prova de que o Japão está revivendo sua mentalidade militarista.
Is Shinzo Abe’s ‘new nationalism’ a throwback to Japanese imperialism?
The Guardian – 27/11/2013 – por Simon Tisdall
The deepening confrontation between Japan and its giant neighbour, China, over a disputed island chain, which this week sucked in US military forces flying B-52 bombers, holds no terrors for Kenji Fujii, captain of the crack Japanese destroyer JS Murasame.
As a battleship-grey drizzle sweeps across Yokosuka harbour, home port to the Japan maritime self-defence force and the US Seventh Fleet, Fujii stands four-square on his helicopter deck, a totemic red Japanese sun-ray ensign flapping at the flagstaff behind him. His stance exudes quiet purposefulness.
The Murasame, armed with advanced missiles, torpedoes, a 76mm rapid-fire turret cannon and a vicious-looking Phalanx close-in-weapons-system (CIWS) Gatling gun, is on the frontline of Japan’s escalating standoff with China and its contentious bid to stand up for itself and become a power in the world once again. And Fujii clearly relishes his role in the drama.
Asked whether he will be taking his ship south, to the hotly disputed waters off the Senkaku islands in the East China sea (which China calls the Diaoyu and claims as its own), Fujii smiles and bows. His executive officer, acting as translator, explains that “for security and operational reasons” the captain cannot comment. The situation there is just too sensitive.
The name Murasame means “passing shower”. But Japan’s decision last year to in effect nationalise some of the privately owned Senkakus – officials prefer to call it a transfer of property rights – triggered a prolonged storm of protest from China, which has been sending ships to challenge the Japanese coastguard ever since.
So far, there have been no direct armed exchanges, but there have been several close shaves, including a Chinese navy radar lock-on and the firing of warning shots by a Japanese fighter plane.
China’s weekend declaration of an exclusive “air defence identification zone” covering the islands was denounced by Tokyo and Washington and sharply increased the chances of a military clash. US B-52 bombers and Japanese civilian airliners have subsequently entered the zone, ignoring China’s new “rules”.
On Tuesday, Beijing said it had monitored the flights; its next move is awaited with some trepidation.
For Shinzo Abe, Japan’s conservative prime minister who marks one year in office next month, the Senkaku dispute is only one facet of a deteriorating east Asian security environment that is officially termed “increasingly severe” and which looks increasingly explosive as China projects its expanding military, economic and political power beyond its historical borders.
One year on, Abe’s no-nonsense response is plain: Japan must loosen the pacifist constitutional bonds that have held it in check since 1945 and stand up forcefully for its interests, its friends and its values. The way Abe tells it, Japan is back – and the tiger he is riding is dubbed Abe’s “new nationalism“.
It is no coincidence that high-level contacts with China and South Korea have been in deep freeze ever since Abe took office, while the impasse over North Korea has only deepened. Unusually, a date for this year’s trilateral summit between Japan, China and South Korea has yet to be announced.
The Beijing and Seoul governments profess to view Abe’s efforts to give Japan a bigger role on the world stage, forge security and defence ties with south-east Asian neighbours, and strengthen the US alliance as intrinsically threatening – a throwback to the bad old days of Japanese imperialism.
Abe is also charged with arrogance, chauvinism and historical revisionism, by minimising or ignoring wartime legacies such as the controversy over Korean “comfort women” who were forced into prostitution by Japanese troops during the second world war.
Addressing the UN general assembly in September, Abe set an unapologetically expansive global agenda for a newly assertive Japan. Whether the issue was Syria, nuclear proliferation, UN peacekeeping, Somali piracy, development assistance or women’s rights, Tokyo would have its say. “I will make Japan a force for peace and stability,” Abe said. “Japan will newly bear the flag of ‘proactive contribution to peace’ [his policy slogan].”
Referring to the initial success of his “Abenomics” strategy to revive the country’s economic fortunes, he went on to promise Japan would “spare no pains to get actively involved in historic challenges facing today’s world with our regained strength and capacity … The growth of Japan will benefit the world. Japan’s decline would be a loss for people everywhere.”
Just in case Beijing missed his drift, Abe spelled it out: as a global trading nation, Japan’s reinvigorated “national interest” was existentially linked to freedom of navigation and open sea lanes around the Senkakus and elsewhere. “Changes to the maritime order through the use of force or coercion cannot be condoned under any circumstances.”
Akio Takahara, professor of international relations and law at Tokyo university, said such statements made clear the Senkaku standoff was potentially precedent-setting for all the countries of the region, including Vietnam and the Philippines, which have their own island disputes with Beijing.
“[Senkaku] must be viewed as an international issue, not just a bilateral issue … and it is very, very dangerous. They [China] must stop the provocations,” Takahara said. “If Japan did buckle, it would send a very bad message to China’s hardliners, they would be triumphant and the modernisers and reformers would be marginalised.”
A senior government official was more terse: “We don’t want to see China patrolling the East and South China seas as though they think they own them.”
Abe’s forcefulness has produced forceful reactions. In a recent editorial, South Korea’s Joongang Daily, lambasted him as “one of the most rightwing politicians in Japan in decades“. It continued: “Buoyed by the nationalist mood sweeping Japanese society since Abe took the helm of the once-pacifist nation, [rightwing politicians] are increasingly regressing to a militarist path … As a result, the political situation of north-east Asia is becoming shakier than ever.”
Pure hyperbole, say Abe’s defenders. Tensions were high primarily as a result of China’s aggressive bid for hegemonic regional leadership, a senior foreign ministry official insisted, while describing the antagonistic South Korean leadership’s anti-Japan behaviour as “strange” and “emotional”.
Abe’s premise, said government spokeswoman Kuni Sato, was that, after years of restraint, “Japan can now do what other countries do within international law”. What Abe was doing was “necessary and justified” in the face of China’s diplomatic hostility and rapid military buildup, said Yuji Miyamoto, a former ambassador to Beijing.
“Only three countries don’t understand this policy – China, South Korea and North Korea,” said Nobuo Kishi, the prime minister’s younger brother and senior vice-minister for foreign affairs. In contrast, the members of Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations) were mostly on board.
Abe’s advancing security agenda suggests his second year in office will be even more rumbustious than the first. It includes creating a national security council modelled on the US and British versions (David Cameron and William Hague have offered their advice), a new national security strategy, revamped defence guidelines, and a harsh state secrets law.
Criticised by the UN and the main opposition parties, the proposed law threatens long jail sentences for whistleblowers and journalists who break its vague, catchall provisions. Abe has increased the defence budget for the first time in years, is overseeing an expansion of naval and coastguard capabilities (Japan’s maritime self-defence force, or navy, is already the second biggest in Asia by tonnage), and has gathered expert support for a reinterpretation of article 9 of Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow “collective self-defence” – meaning that if the US or another ally is attacked, Japanese armed forces will join the fight.
On the diplomatic front, Abe is busily wooing his Asian neighbours. Having visited all 10 members of Asean in his first year, he will host a gala Asean summit in Tokyo on 13 December that looks very much like an anti-China jamboree.
He comprehensively outflanked Beijing during this month’s typhoon emergency in the Philippines, sending troops, ships and generous amounts of aid, the biggest single overseas deployment of Japanese forces since 1945 – while China was widely criciticised for donating less financial aid that the Swedish furniture chain Ikea.
Abe is also providing 10 coastguard vessels to the Philippines to help ward off Chinese incursions. Improved security and military-to-military co-operation with Australia and India form part of his plans.
Officials insist, meanwhile, that the US relationship remains the bedrock of Japanese security. Taking full advantage of Barack Obama’s so-called “pivot to Asia”, Abe’s government agreed a revised pact in October with the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, providing for a “more robust alliance and greater shared responsibilities“.
With a wary eye on China, the pact envisages enhanced co-operation in ballistic missile defence, arms development and sales, intelligence sharing, space and cyber warfare, joint military training and exercises, plus the introduction of advanced radar and drones. Japan is also expected to buy American advanced weapons systems such as the F35 fighter-bomber and two more Aegis-equipped missile defence destroyers.
Washington is positively purring with pleasure over Abe’s tougher stance. “The US welcomed Japan’s determination to contribute proactively to regional and global peace and security,” a joint statement said. The pact reflected “shared values of democracy, the rule of law, free and open markets and respect for human rights”. But Abe’s opponents fear the country is developing a new military mindset.
What the Japanese public makes of what seems to amount overall to a landmark post-war shift in the scope and ambition of Japan’s regional and global engagement is hard to gauge.
China’s disapproval ratings are a record high 94%, but a big majority (80%) of people polled also believe good bilateral relations are important. Many cling to the old pacifist verities but many others now understand the world around Japan is changing fast and unpredictably, said Kuni Miyake of Tokyo’s Canon Institute for Global Studies.
“Despite his conservative, hawkish image, Abe is in fact a very pragmatic, reasonable politician. But he is also proud of Japan and he is saying it’s OK to be proud,” Miyake said.
“A huge power shift is going on in east Asia. Before Abe and the new era, we were day-dreaming. We thought we could follow pacifism, not threaten anybody, have no army, and the world would leave us alone. We were in a bubble. And it worked because of the US alliance, not because of pacifism.
“The next generation doesn’t believe that … People are aware that prayers for peace are not enough. We have to deter many potential aggressors. If China insists on being a Pacific power and challenges the US-Japan hegemony at sea, a showdown is inevitable,” Miyake said.
For Takahara, the opposite holds true. There were limits to what Japan could do when faced by China’s rising power and Abe’s approach was fraught with peril. “There is really no choice but to use diplomacy and dialogue to mend ties with China,” Takahara said.
“Abe is very rightwing by traditional measures. He is a historical revisionist at heart. He would really like to visit the Yasukuni shrine where Japan’s war dead are remembered. He is a nationalist … But Abe won’t succeed with his ‘new nationalism’. We are a post-industrial society. There’s no way the youngsters will go along.”
O PLD, partido do Primeiro-Ministro Shinzo Abe quer revisar os livros de história para colégios de ensino fundamental e médio para refletir a posição oficial do governo sobre “fatos históricos”, diminuir a autocondenação e instigar o orgulho nacional. Dentre os eventos revisados, estariam o Massacre de Nanquim e a escravatura sexual durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial.
History texts to get official spin
The Japan Times – 14/11/2013
The education ministry plans to revise guidelines for textbooks for elementary, junior high and high schools, and introduce requirements reflecting the government’s position on “historical facts,” officials said.
The revision is in line with calls by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to instill a sense of national pride in students and correct what some LDP members call a “self-condemning” view of historical events, including the Nanjing Massacre and wartime sex slaves.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology also wants the textbooks to include more material that would encourage children to be more patriotic and respectful of traditional culture, the officials said Wednesday.
Under the current guidelines for modern society and history, textbooks should not contain categorical statements about historical events that are open to different interpretations.
In the new provisions, the ministry will present “a balanced picture” of a historical event, showing both pro and con views, the officials said.
That particular move is in consideration of the ongoing tensions between Japan and China and South Korea over the number of victims in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, the Japanese military’s involvement in wartime sexual slavery and territorial rows, a senior education ministry official said.
The issue of how historical events are described in textbooks is a sensitive one for other parts of Asia that suffered during Japan’s wartime aggression, particularly China and what is now South Korea.
Japan is also involved in a row over South Korea-controlled islets, and in a spat with China over Japan-controlled islets.
The LDP pledged during last December’s general election campaign that it would revise the guidelines so students use textbooks that “allow them to be proud of traditional culture.”
The LDP believes the texts on the Nanjing Massacre and wartime sex slaves — known euphemistically as “comfort women” — are biased. Some LDP lawmakers say the current guidelines lead to “self-condemning” views of history in textbooks.
Stricter vetting of social studies textbooks began in 1982 after China and South Korea objected strongly to Japanese high school history textbooks the previous year that began referring to Japan’s past “invasions” in Asia as “advancements.”
Even after the 1982 guidelines, China and South Korea repeatedly criticized the wording of some history textbooks in the screening process, claiming they were glorifying past aggression. In 2001, a junior high school text written by a group of nationalists invited strong criticism from the two countries.
The ministry hopes to revise the guidelines for social studies textbooks by January, after approval by the ministry’s textbook screening council, and use the revised guidelines when screening junior high school textbooks next spring, the officials said.
On Monday, a ministry panel recommended that moral education, widely taught as an extracurricular activity, be included in the official curriculum of public elementary and junior high schools.
In February, the government’s education task force, which was set up to respond to Abe’s call for education reform, suggested the inclusion of moral education in the curriculum as an anti-bullying measure.