Paying The Price For Reform

24 Apr

Paying Dues at YasukuniI miss Bill Sakovich!

I know Ampontan would have known how to respond to this petty nonsense.

The Blue House has decided to maintain their firm response to Japanese government ministers’ and lawmakers’ visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and other indications that the country is moving to the right, even if it means putting a strain on bilateral relations. The South Korean government realizes that it is critical for South Korea and Japan to work together on North Korea’s provocations and threats. Nevertheless, as the decision to cancel Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se’s trip to Japan shows, Seoul will not be rushing to repair relations with Japan while the historical issues have not been dealt with.

“The Yasukuni Shrine is a place that honors the memory of war criminals and glorifies war. The Japanese government needs to seriously reflect on how people in neighboring countries will think about visits to the shrine,” said Cho Tae-young, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a press briefing on Apr. 23. “From what I have heard, the Japanese government insists that it is possible to hold different interpretations of history. But what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong.” The remarks were targeted at comments made by Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister of Japan, who met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Apr. 2013 when he attended Park’s inauguration ceremony as a special envoy. “Even within the same country, and the same people, people have different views of history,” Taro said. “It is the same with relations between Japan and South Korea. Shouldn’t this be taken for granted in our discussions of historical perception?”

I know if there’s a Buddha, that Bill is in some quiet place smoking shit and laughing. Sakovich’s argument was, that a few trips to Yasukuni, to placate the rightwing nutjobs was worth it, if the responsible conservatives could push through reforms (via Shisaku).

Though Abe has focused mostly on economic policy since taking office in December, he has campaigned for revising Japan’s U.S.-inspired constitution, which renounced war after the country’s defeat in World War II, and for recognizing the country’s Self-Defense Forces as a national military. He also favors revising Japan’s past apologies for atrocities committed by its Imperial Army before and during World War II. Those aims are outlined in the LDP’s platform.

The party holds a strong majority in the lower house of parliament, but needs a robust showing in upper house elections in July to gain the mandate it wants for pushing ahead with other priorities, including constitutional revision. Even if it gains a strong upper house majority, it faces a tough decision by next fall on whether to go ahead with a commitment to raise the sales tax — a move expected to anger voters and possibly throw the economy back into recession.

Abe enjoys approval ratings of more than 70 percent, but the liberal-leaning Asahi newspaper said Tuesday he was jeopardizing much of that support by turning away from the economy at a time when there are no clear signs of a strong recovery.

“Why spark a source of friction?” Asahi asked. “What on earth is the Abe administration doing when improved relations with neighboring countries are most needed?”

Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said Abe’s party has been “remarkably successful in staying on message, in staying focused on the economy.”

“Some would still want to be cautious and try to focus on the economy, but the desire to talk about other nationalist policies may be too tempting. We have to see how much further they will go in this direction,” Nakano said.

Abe last visited Yasukuni in October, when he was opposition leader. As prime minister in 2006-2007, before resigning for health reasons, he refrained from making any visits. As recently as February he said his decision not to visit the shrine during that time was his “greatest regret.”

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday he would try to avoid adverse fallout from the latest Yasukuni visits.

Well. it’s not just the South Koreans who are stoked for a fight. The price for a vote in Japan is steep.


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One Response to “Paying The Price For Reform”

  1. Rob 24 April 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Also, it is the Japanese culture to piss off neighboring countries. So, those countries should not complain, or else they are in fact repressing the great Japanese culture!!

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