Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Next Prime Minister, Taro Aso

It could be argued that Prime Minister Koizumi's major foreign policy success, other than the normal kowtowing the US, has been his talent at angering China and Korea through his visits to Yasukuni. One wonders exactly what he thinks he is achieving by this; what benefit there is for Japan or anyone else, but he is rumored to be planning to visit it again on 15 August, the anniversary of Japan's surrender. (In a recent letter to the editor of the International Herald Tribune, one official representative of the Japanese government denied that Koizumi was visiting the shrine to appease the Japanese rightwing. Officials are very skilled at immediately responding to any criticism in the press and explaining it all away. Japan is always right, always innocent. So it's not rightwing appeasement like most think. Then why?)

His possible successor, Foreign Minister Aso who has made several statements in the past explaining away or justifying Japanese actions in WW2, recently made headlines after it was announced that he too, had visited the shrine, and is believed to plan to do so should he become prime minister.

Aso's family's company kept Allied prisoners as force labor during the war. He invited---then disinvite---Ambassadors from former Allied countries to a July 3 ceremony to commemorate prisoners who died in Japanese custody during the war. Most believe this happened because Aso was afraid of controversy over his own family's involvement in forced labor. Read about it here.

Japan is becoming more aggressive in its foreign policy. It is time for this to happen instead of continuing to depend on the US to set it for Japan while also providing a military for the country. But one has to wonder what Japan's world view is. What overall goals does it hope to achieve in its foreign policy? Punish North Korea for kidnapping Japanese while forgetting about Koreans that Japan kidnapped because it was done by the war time government? Insult Japan's WW2 victims by worshipping at Yasukuni? Increase whaling quotas? These are the diplomatic objectives of the world's second largest country? Is this why Japan wants on the UN Security Council?

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