Monday, March 05, 2007

Abe/Japan hypocritical on abductees? Noooo........

From ZNet:

Abe's claim to fame, featured prominantly [sic] in a recent Time article and covered extensively by the Japanese press, is seen as his "firm," "hard line" position on the issue of the abductions of a group of Japanese civilians by North Korean agents in the period between 1977 and 1983. As Walsh describes it:

"Abe had been active on the abductee issue since the late 1980s, and he arranged meetings for [the family of one the abductees] with high-level officials and kept the couple personally updated on Tokyo's progress. But what mattered most ... was the sense that Abe truly cared" [1].

This public perception of a caring and courageous statesman "fighting for us" - greatly amplified by media attention lavished on the abduction issue - attracted much-needed popularity to a formerly little-known politician. Yet as Gavan McCormack and Wada Haruki point out:

"[T]he mainstream media failed to mention that during the colonial era Japan had abducted hundreds of thousands of Koreans to work as prostitutes ('comfort women') for Japanese soldiers or to work in mines, factories, and low-ranking jobs in the Japanese military such as guarding Western prisoners during World War II. Viewed in this larger historical context, by Koreans north and south, the transformation of the obviously criminal abductions of thirteen Japanese citizens into the crime of the century and the Japanese into the ultimate victims of Asian brutality had a painful air of unreality" [15]. (Emphasis mine)

The situation was greatly exacerbated in October 2002 when, in an act of sheer hypocrisy, the Japanese government demanded compensation from North Korea for the abductions - itself having refused compensation to the victims of the colonial era. An agreement to allow five surviving abductees to "temporarily return" for one or two weeks was broken by the Japanese*, who made the decision, before the five had even set foot on Japanese soil, not to follow through on their part of the deal. As Japan pressured North Korea for further concessions, the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea and Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea, represented in government by Abe and his supporters, issued a statement that Japan should "wait until the North Koreans can no longer endure" [16]. In words that echo those of the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeine Albright, who, probed on the "cost" of the sanctions against Iraq that had resulted in deaths of over 500,000 children, remarked that "we think the price was worth it," Abe Shinzo stood "firm" against North Korea, declaring: "In Japan, there is food and there is oil, and since North Korea cannot survive the winter without them, it will crack before too long" [15]. Abe was proven wrong, and a prolonged stalemate ensued in which the Japanese government repeatedly played its key bargaining chips - freezing humanitarian aid and threating sanctions - to little success.

Full article on ZNet by Chris Salzberg

Of course, if nobody in power in Japan really believes that the country/military was involved in sexual slavery, kidnapping etc, despite it 1993 "apology" then there is no hypocrisy. They simply do no believe that Japan did anything wrong that cannot be excused as "everyone does it."

*I don't believe Japan can be criticized at all for breaking the agreement to return the kidnap victims to North Korea. Why would any country hold to such an agreement?

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