Thursday, March 08, 2007

Not a reflection on those who elected Abe?

Again, I have to say that Abe was not directly elected by voters. However, voters do directly elect the LDP (lower house) members who elect the Prime Minister.

be's denial of the need for an official admission of guilt for the suffering of some 200,000 women who were kept in military brothels should not be taken as a reflection on the Japanese people. Rather it is symptomatic of the nationalism Abe and other rightists within the governing Liberal Democratic Party have employed as a stepping stone to power. From the Boston Globe.

I agree to a limited extent. Abe's position, like Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, is not very popular among the Japanese public as a whole. Although there is an overall sense one can get from speaking to people that Japan was a victim of the war, you don't get the same sort of strong right-wing revisionism that the LDP shows. However, if this point of view continues, and Abe and his fellow travelers are able to push through most of what they want, the effect in the future will be to deepen these extremist beliefs among the population. They want to teach "patriotism" in schools and have already succeeded in revising the education law. Popular books (Fujiwara, for example) push the right leaning view even more. A few days ago, one Japanese author even suggested that for Japanese women to become more attractive internationally, they should become prouder of being Japanese. Proud as defined by the right-wing means never apologizing for anything in the past. For being arrogant. (Anyone who remembers the 1980s-early 90s should be able to recall that Japan has never lacked anything in the pride department. False modesty only hides so much.)

In the end though, Japanese citizens are responsible for the government they elected. Just like Americans are when we elected and reelected President Bush. We can all blame him for where the US has gone, but we all share responsibility. So do the Japanese share responsibility for Abe's words and actions. One of the defenses one often hears from people is that the average Japanese had little say in the government in the immediate pre-war years, so therefore, they were not responsible for the actions of the leaders. Why do many seem to assume that now? Does the world not expect more out of the Japanese public? Or do we just imagine it as the geisha, samurai, and tea ceremony fantasy world of The Last Samurai?

(Of course many of the strongest opponents of the right-wing antics of Abe and the others are Japanese citizens. In fact, many of the people and groups helping comfort women in court cases against Japan are Japanese.)

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