Political calculations behind Abe's Pearl Harbor visit


China Military
Huang Panyue


BEIJING, Dec. 8 (ChinaMil) -- The Japanese government announced on December 5 that their Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the US on the 26th and 27th this month.


Abe will go to the Pearl Harbor, where the war broke out between the US and Japan in the World War Two (WWII), along with the US President Barack Obama.


If the visit takes place, Abe will be the first Japanese prime minister to the Pearl Harbor after Japan surprise-attacked it in 1941.


Abe claimed that the trip is to "pay respect to the dead" and showcase "his resolve to refrain from war".


This sounds like Abe is going to have a trip of reflection and repentance, but a closer look shows that this is a typical "diplomatic show" with "Abe characteristics" filled with Abe's realistic and political calculations.


Actually, the Pearl Harbor visit is essentially an attempt to peddle Abe's revisionist outlook on the WWII, while apology and repentance for Japan's wartime atrocities is never part of the plan.


Taking the opportunity of hosting the G7 (Group of 7, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) summit in May this year, Abe arranged for the US President Obama to visit Hiroshima, a Japanese city razed to the ground by the 1945 US atomic bombing, against outcries.


The Abe government touted this visit as a major achievement in the "historical reconciliation between the two countries". In a sense, Abe's Pearl Harbor visit is to return Obama's Hiroshima visit and draw a closure to their post-war reconciliation.


In Abe's words, this trip will put an end to Japan's "post-war" history and the chapter on Pearl Harbor will be turned over for future prime ministers.


However, Abe intentionally arranged this visit of such "historical significance" to be during the Christmas holiday instead of on December 7, the day that Japan attacked the harbor 75 years ago. Such a "deliberate low profile" is obviously to avoid more criticism and protests.


At the same time, the trip is also intended to repair Tokyo's relation with the Obama administration.


Before attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, Abe flew to the US to visit the President-elect Donald Trump regardless of diplomatic decorum, which seriously upset the Obama administration and it warned both Japan and Trump.


But Abe prided himself on being the first and the only foreign leader who met with Trump before he formally took office.


The upcoming visit is doubtless a remedial measure to mend the relations with the US and do a favor to Obama who is summarizing his diplomatic legacy.


More importantly, Abe hopes that this visit will appeal to the incoming administration in Washington.


During the election campaign, Trump questioned the value of US-Japan alliance and asked why Obama didn't mention Japan's surprise attack to Pearl Harbor when paying the historical visit to Hiroshima.


After being elected, Trump demanded Japan to bear more of the cost for the American troops stationed there.


The new president has brought changes to the old strategy of US-Japan alliance, and Abe's visit will be a response to Trump's concerns.


Abe claimed that his Pearl Harbor visit is aimed for "reconciliation" and "peace", but his motive is to sell his revisionist outlook on the WWII.


After taking office for the second time, Abe took quicker steps in political, military, diplomatic, educational and ideological areas in order to shake off the restriction of the post-war system.


He lifted the ban on the right to collective self-defense, passed the new security bills, pushed for equality in the Japan-US alliance and reformed Japan's "history" education.


In Japan's history textbooks, especially the right-wing ones, the aggressive wars initiated by Japan during the WWII are called the Greater East Asian War and Pacific War.


The US and Japan are described as regular winner and loser in the world anti-Fascist War, and Japan-US reconciliation becomes the pronoun for "historical reconciliation" in Japan's history textbooks.


But historical facts won't be tampered by some "show", and the Abe administration's trick of blurring the line between justice and injustice of a war is all too clear for the people of the WWII victim countries as well as those Japanese with vision.


According to Japanese political pundit Honzawa Jiro, "compared with the Pearl Harbor, Abe has more reasons to visit China. He should go to Nanjing to see what sufferings the massacre caused the Chinese people and to Harbin to see what Unit 731 did."


Moreover, looking at history from a purely realistic and political perspective cannot get Japan real trust from its allies.


We advise Japan to adopt a correct view toward history and the anti-human crimes committed by Japanese militarists, and take concrete steps to regain trust from the people of victim countries and the international community.


Related News