Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 08/16/07-1

Published: Thu 16 Aug 2007 08:24 AM
DE RUEHKO #3783/01 2280824
P 160824Z AUG 07
E.O. 12958: N/A
(1) Pros and cons of prime minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine
split the religious vote in last Upper House election
(2) What to do about structural reforms: "Revision is needed," urge
Mori and others; Junior LDP members concerned about reform drive
(3) Interview with LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Toshihiro
Nikai: Ruling party must reach out to opposition
(4) Interview with State Minister in Charge of Administrative and
Regulatory Reforms Yoshimi Watanabe: Ruling and opposition parties
must debate, find "landing site"
(5) Interview with former DPJ Policy Research Committee Chair
Yoshito Sengoku: Ozawa should make clear that he wants in order to
be prime minister
(6) DPJ to aim at obtaining single majority: Making efforts to form
joint parliamentary group in bid to solidify its foothold to realize
prior consideration by Upper House
(7) Toshinori Shigeie picked ambassador to South Korea
(8) What is behind Abe's plan to meet son of war tribunal judge Pal
despite possible reactions from US, Asia
(1) Pros and cons of prime minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine
split the religious vote in last Upper House election
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
August 15, 2007
Prior to the anniversary of the end of the war on Aug. 15, the moves
of religious groups in connection with the July Upper House election
have been active. While Shinto-related religious groups have been
urging Prime Minister Abe to visit Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to
the war dead on Aug. 15, Buddhists and other religious organization
sent letters to the prime minister and cabinet members urging
self-constraint on paying homage at Yasukuni Shrine. With the
weakening of such organized support groups as the construction
industry, the existence of religious groups with their
vote-mobilization capability has steadily taken on increasing
The Bussho Gonenkai Kyodan (membership of approximately 550,000
households), which has been urging the prime minister to officially
pay homage at Yasukuni Shrine, supported two incumbent Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) candidates in the proportional representation
segment of the House of Councillors' election. It linked with the
Nihon Izoku-kai (Japan Association of Bereaved Families of the War
Dead) to enhance its ability to gather votes. A source in the Kyodan
stressed: "The proper activity of religious associations is to back
established political parties."
Seiichi Eto, the postal rebel who had once left the LDP but was
restored to the party prior to the Upper House election, received
the recommendation of the conservative group, Nippon Kaigi (Japan
TOKYO 00003783 002 OF 011
Conference), which advocates the drafting of an independent
constitution for Japan and the realization of official visits to
Yasukuni Shrine by prime ministers. He also received support from a
number of religious associations affiliated with the Nippon Kaigi.
A source at one of those religious groups expressed its hopes: "Our
chance came with the presence of Abe as prime minister. His thinking
is close to ours, so we could jointly fall into step."
On the other hand, Shinshuren or the Alliance of New Religious
Organizations, which consists of 69 Buddhist-affiliated sects,
issued an opinion paper on Aug. 9 calling on the prime minister and
his cabinet not to pay homage at Yasukuni Shrine. "The government
should strictly refrain from involvement with specific religious
facilities," the paper warned. It was presented to the government
through the LDP. The same day, the paper went to the DPJ, as well.
Shinshuren in the Upper House election recommended two fresh
candidates running from the DPJ in the proportional representation
segment. In the Tokyo metropolitan area, it allocated some of its
members' votes to the incumbent LDP candidate, as well.
In the district races, Shinshuren established its own criteria and
recommended over 30 candidates from both the LDP and DPJ, based on
the principle that it should not fall under one party or political
group in accordance with freedom of religion and the separation of
church and state.
The trigger for many religious associations to have strengthened
their ties to politics has been the Yasukuni Shrine issue. In the
1960s and '70s, a movement developed led by the Nippon Izokukai
(Japan Association of the Bereaved Families of the War Dead), a
political support organization of the LDP, to return Yasukuni Shrine
under state control (like before the war), and the LDP even
presented a bill to the Diet aimed at state protection for the
shrine. This movement was sharply opposed by Buddhist-related
religious associations and other religious groups, resulting in the
bill being scrapped.
As a source in one affiliated organization noted, Shinshuren
positioned the trend at that time this way: "By our involvement in
politics, we forced the scrapping of the bill. That was our biggest
accomplishment in the past." The movement to obtain state protection
for Yasukuni collapsed, and the focus of efforts by the group that
had promoted such turned to bringing about prime ministerial visits
to the shrine. But when opinion divided on that issue, a group
emerged even in Shinshuren calling for withdrawal from that
In the late 1990s, the Komeito (the party is now called New Komeito)
received support of its sole religious supporter, the Soka Gakkai,
and joined the ruling coalition with the LDP. However, within that
religious organization, there seems to have been doubts about
stances to take toward the administration. Nevertheless, since the
party relied on the religious organization for getting out the vote,
the political ties of that religious organization never weakened.
A senior official of the Shinto Seiji Renmei (Shinto Political
Federation) stated: "For Shinto circles to achieve its goals, there
are many cases where we have had to be concerned with laws. It is
necessary to build strong channels to the Diet."
(2) What to do about structural reforms: "Revision is needed," urge
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Mori and others; Junior LDP members concerned about reform drive
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 16, 2007
In connection with a cabinet reshuffle and the changing of the
lineup of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) executive expected to
take place on Aug. 27, what direction the structural reforms will
take has become an issue. Following the crushing defeat of the
ruling camp, veteran lawmakers have begun calling for a revision of
the reform policy line adopted during the Koizumi administration.
Junior lawmakers, however, are opposed to any notion of revising the
existing line. Prime Minister Abe, who wants to regain public
support, as well as to restore order to the government and the
ruling camp, is under pressure to make a difficult decision.
Voices calling for a revision of the reform policy have begun
gaining ground right after the LDP defeat in the Upper House
election and erupted at bloc-by-bloc hearings of views held by the
LDP Upper House election overview committee, which started on Aug.
7. Former Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda noted: "The government
has lacked consideration for the socially vulnerable in terms of
medical services and social security. If the structural reforms are
carried out in the name of the continuation of the reform drive and
the creation of a small government, they will be further
impoverished." Former MEXT Minister Kenji Kosaka said, "The
government has to come up with a stance of listening to the voices
of people in the rural districts, farmers and medium and small
business operators more carefully." In response to such views,
former Prime Minister Mori, who is viewed as a guardian of the prime
minister during an interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun on Aug. 10
urged the government to shift the focus of key policy themes,
noting, "Policy themes closely related to people's lives should be
Those who voiced such a view were mainly senior and mid-level
lawmakers. They seem to think that the LDP used to obtain support
because it widely absorbed the views of people in rural districts.
The structural reform policy, including the introduction of the
market principles promoted by one time Internal Affairs and
Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka during the Koizumi
administration should be changed quickly."
In contrast, many junior party members are concerned about such a
move with one noting, "If the image of the party spreads that it is
retreating from reform, people would think that the party has
transformed itself back to its former self. Should that occur, we
would suffer a major setback in the Lower House election." The
Dietmembers' Caucus for Reform Expedition consisting of junior and
mid-ranking lawmakers on August 8 held a meeting at the party
headquarters. Former State Minister for Declining Birthrate Kuniko
Inoguchi during the meeting noted, "A mistaken conclusion is being
reached that the cause of the defeat of the LDP in the Upper House
election was the Koizumi reform line."
Former Prime Minister Koizumi, who paved the way for the reform
policy, has encouraged Prime Minister Abe, noting, "Reform cannot be
achieved if the prime minister is replaced in a year or two. The
prime minister should carry out reform to realize what the people
expect him to do without being bothered by an election."
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Abe approved budget request guidelines for the fiscal 2008 budget,
which inherited the Koizumi administration's fiscal reconstruction
policy, dismissing pressure from the party that public works in
rural districts should be boosted to correct social disparities.
However, following the crushing defeat of the ruling bloc in the
July Upper House election, Abe started to waver, telling an aide, "I
wonder if the people might be tired of reform."
The prime minister's future policy on the policy issue will be
reflected in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle and party executive
During an interview on Aug. 10, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori
indicated his readiness to approve a possible appointment of Taro
Aso as secretary general, saying, "Foreign Minister Aso supported my
view that a policy attaching importance to rural district should be
adopted." He also revealed that he advised the prime minister that
he should appoint to key posts former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo
Fukuda, who has been distancing himself from Abe, and former Finance
Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki.
If the prime minister follows Mori's advice, he would be judged as
having not only revised the reform policy line but also as having
made concessions to the party side. Should that happen, he would
lose more public support. In the meantime, Mori has a major impact
in achieving intra-party appeasement, because he has channels with
senior members of various factions. All eyes will now be on what
judgments the prime minister will reach on Aug. 27.
(3) Interview with LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Toshihiro
Nikai: Ruling party must reach out to opposition
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
August 16, 2007
-- One of the major reasons for the Liberal Democratic Party's big
loss in the Upper House election was the inappropriate statements
and money scandals surrounding cabinet members such as former
Agricultural Minister Norihiko Akagi.
I must admit that while working on Diet affairs, (every time a new
scandal came out) we would say to ourselves, "Here's another one."
We suffered through it without a word, but it was just too much.
Although our policies were meant to help, there were aspects that
people did not fully understand. Right now, it is as if we are in a
burnt field. We have no choice but to make efforts so we can show
people a rejuvenated LDP.
-- The LDP had enjoyed heavy support in the single-seat districts
until now. But this time, LDP candidates lost across the board in
those same single-seat districts. Is this a revolt by voters tired
of social disparity and problems with bread-and-butter issues?
It probably is a revolt. It is not that voters really support other
parties. They wanted to make the LDP reflect on its actions. But it
is important that we recover from this shock quickly without
panicking. In the 1998 Upper House election, the LDP won 3 races and
lost 23 in the single-seat districts. However in the Upper House
election three years later, we made a big comeback. We must actively
seek out the opinions and requests of the regions.
-- Criticism has been mounting towards Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's
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decision to stay in office not just from the voters, but also from
within the LDP.
It is important for LDP members to stick together and support the
prime minister. We cannot afford to drag our feet. It is easy to
criticize. However in last year's LDP presidential election, we
overwhelmingly supported Abe, so the blame falls on the LDP Diet
members nationwide. Criticism alone will not move us forward.
-- What is important in the upcoming reorganization of the cabinet
and the LDP executive posts?
Party unity is always important. The prime minister/LDP President
has the power to make personnel choices, and we shouldn't be making
comments from the sidelines. The prime minister should take decisive
action after careful consideration. We should not constrict him with
-- The opposition parties have made Diet operations very difficult.
There is no magical solution. We will approach them with sincerity
and cordiality.
The extension of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, which is
set to expire on November 1, fits into the idea of both the ruling
and opposition parties feel that "the fight against terrorism is the
most important issue for the international community." The ruling
party must center all its efforts on convincing (the opposition
parties) to agree to the extension.
-- There are predictions that the ruling party will face gridlock in
Diet discussions.
We are not planning to take things easy by relying on the option of
returning bills to the Lower House and getting them passed there.
Even if the DPJ issues a series of censure motions, the people are
watching. In order to increase government productivity, we must
cooperate where cooperation is needed and revise when revisions must
be made. The ruling party must take the initiative in creating lots
of opportunities for both sides to talk. For this reason, the Diet
session will probably be longer than usual.
-- Isn't DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa trying to force an early
dissolution of the Lower House and a presidential election?
I wonder if the Japanese people will support that. The effects of
the "Lost Decade" (TN: the "Lost Decade" refers to the period of
prolonged economic stagnation during the 1990s following the burst
of the bubble economy) can still be felt in the regions, in small
and mid-sized companies and in the agricultural sector. It is
important for both the ruling and opposition parties to introduce
policies to deal with these problems. Now that they have earned a
majority in the Upper House, the opposition parties have greater
political responsibility. Even the DPJ cannot conduct Diet business
in the same way that they had before.
-- When do you think the next Lower House election will be?
I don't see any reason to hurry.
(4) Interview with State Minister in Charge of Administrative and
Regulatory Reforms Yoshimi Watanabe: Ruling and opposition parties
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must debate, find "landing site"
NIKKEI (Page 2)
August 16, 2007
-- The Democratic Party of Japan has seized control of the Upper
"We must decide whether to simply respond to the current political
situation or to take this as the first step towards Japan's future
democratic maturation. We are at a fork in the road. If we just
respond to the political situation, the "Lost Decade" might return.
(TN: the "Lost Decade" refers to the period of prolonged economic
stagnation during the 1990s following the burst of the bubble
-- There was a similar situation in 1998 (when the ruling party at
the time lost its majority in the Upper House). As a member of a new
generation of policymakers, you moved to cooperate with the
opposition on policy during the "financial Diet session." (TN: the
"financial Diet session" refers to the 79-day extra Diet session
held to deal with a banking crisis and to split the Finance
"It wasn't the best situation, but it was better than doing nothing
and inducing a systemic risk (such as the successive bankruptcies of
banking institutions). This time, we are not in emergency mode as we
were in 1998, but if we go in the wrong direction with our national
strategies and lean towards big government and socialist policies,
Japan will become a third-rate Asian country."
-- The DPJ is thinking about reintroducing a bill to stem the
practice of "amakudari." (TN: a system where senior bureaucrats
retire to cushy executive positions in the private sector.) How will
you respond?
"A revised bill regarding civil servants has been drafted and has
entered the next phase. I would like the ruling and opposition
parties to have a constructive debate and find a landing site. Many
DPJ Diet members have come forth with progressive arguments
regarding the political appointment (of civil servants) that are
worth a closer look. I want to have discussions filled with
forward-looking ideas. There is room in our discussions to consider
transitionally placing restrictions on "amakudari" in independent
administrative agencies (as well as national civil servants)."
-- The DPJ has criticized the public-private human resources
exchange center (proposed in the LDP's "amakudari" bill) as being an
"amakudari bank."
"The human resources exchange center is meant to take over job
assistance services that the ministries now provide but this
function will eventually come to an end. We will discuss whether the
center will have a sunset clause (shut down after a certain amount
of time) or whether it will be given other tasks and remain
-- What do you think would be a good way for the ruling and
opposition parties to cooperate?
"The Diet is the frontline. The chairpersons of each Diet committee
would assume the responsibility of aiming for cooperation on policy
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and not just on Diet affairs. It is necessary to place people
well-versed in policy in important positions. People who are already
serving in a government post, such as vice ministers or political
advisors, can double as committee chairs."
(5) Interview with former DPJ Policy Research Committee Chair
Yoshito Sengoku: Ozawa should make clear that he wants in order to
be prime minister
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
August 16, 2007
-- What is the opinion of the public, as demonstrated by the results
of the recent Upper House election?
"Voters felt a lot of uncertainty over the Abe administration's
plans for the future of the country. The administration's response
to the problems of the Social Insurance Agency is a great example of
the Abe administration's lack of experience, and the voters
instinctively picked up on that.
-- Yet Abe decided to remain in office.
"(His decision) will probably end up destroying the Liberal
Democratic Party. There is a chance that the functions of government
will be negatively affected and that bad things will happen. The
markets of both the US and Japan are beginning to become turbulent.
At a time when his ability to manage financial and economic crises
is being questioned, how can Abe ignore criticisms and try to create
another immature cabinet of friends? If he does not quit soon, the
Japanese people will experience an unhappy future."
-- Wouldn't that be a plus for the DPJ?
"There is a good chance that it would (be a plus) in the end, but is
that good for the wellbeing of the people? A realignment of the
political world or the restructuring of the administration is fine,
but members of the LDP must also come out and say: "Let's think of a
way to create a solid pension system. Let's rethink the shape of
Japanese politics, including how to change the Constitution."
-- The DPJ used to be called a motley collection of politicians but
now it has gained unity.
"This is because (DPJ President) Ozawa has decided to go for the
goal - the post of prime minister. However it is unclear whether he
really would become premier (if the DPJ gained administrative
power). He has an absolute unifying force, so he should just make it
clear. He must make sure that his supporters do not feel any
-- On what should Ozawa be focusing?
"He should create a system in which young people feel that they
truly want to be part of. The worst thing (that DPJ members) can do
is give up on debating the issues because Ozawa has made a decision
'from above the clouds.'"
(6) DPJ to aim at obtaining single majority: Making efforts to form
joint parliamentary group in bid to solidify its foothold to realize
prior consideration by Upper House
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YOMIURI (Page 4) (Slightly abridged)
August 15, 2007
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) is making various
approaches in a bid to obtain a majority in the Upper House on its
own. It wants to completely secure leadership in the Upper House, a
main battle field for it to attack the ruling parties, emerging from
a situation where it falls short of a majority without cooperation
from the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Social Democratic
Party (SDP).
The DPJ forms a group called DPJ-Shinryokufukai in the Upper House
with members with no party affiliation. The group has increased a
membership to 112 with Toshiro Tomochika and Itsuki Toyama joining
after the Upper House election. If seven JCP members and five from
the Pro-Constitution Association are added, the DPJ could gain a
majority of 122. However, it falls short of 10 seats to gain a
majority on its own.
The DPJ is aiming at gaining a single majority in the Upper House,
because it wants to make sure that its prior consideration by the
Upper House strategy succeeds, meaning that it submit its own bill
to the Upper House and secures approval, thereby applying pressure
on the ruling parties,. It is sounding out the possibility of
forming a joint parliamentary group with the People's New Party
(PNP), which has four seats, and the New Party Nippon (NPN) with one
seat. It is also trying to bring non-affiliated lawmakers into the
The DPJ is giving priority to forming a joint parliamentary group
with the PNP with four seats. In the extraordinary Diet session held
after the Upper House election, it introduced a bill seeking a
freeze on postal privatization jointly with the PNP, accepting its
stance. Though the bill was scrapped, the DPJ plans to introduce it
again in the next extraordinary Diet session.
The PNP remains cautious about the idea with one senior member
saying, "We are recognized and have presence, as we are a separate
party from the DPJ. If we merge with the DPJ, our existence would be
at stake." However, a senior DPJ official is set for continuing
soliciting the PNP to form a joint parliamentary group with the DPJ,
saying, "The PNP can maintain independence, if it remains separate
in the Lower House. It can form a joint parliamentary group with the
DPJ only in the Upper House."
Yasuo Tanaka, head of the NPN and the only lawmaker in the party,
elected in the Upper House election, does not belong to any group.
When he met with DPJ head Ozawa on Aug. 2, he asked Ozawa, "If we
were to form a parliamentary group, I would like to have an
opportunity to ask questions at the Upper House Budget Committee."
Since Ozawa understands his request, Tanaka could agree to form a
joint parliamentary group with the DPJ in the next extraordinary
Diet session.
There are six Upper House members who do not belong to any group,
aside from the president, the vice president and Tanaka. The DPJ
intends to ask them to join its group. Of the six, Daito Matsuura,
who ran in the July Upper House election supported by the LDP and
was elected, expressed his will to join the DPJ group in the next
extraordinary Diet session. However, the SDP chapter in Akita
Prefecture, his home constituency, is opposing the idea. It is
unlikely that other lawmakers will smoothly decided to join the DPJ
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group because of their policy stance and relations with other
opposition parties.
Some DPJ members take the view that if the DPJ forcibly tries to
bring lawmakers who were elected, jointly supported by opposition
parties, into the fold, it would leave a hard feeling and so,
priority should be given to maintaining cooperative relationship in
the run-up to the next Lower House election.
(7) Toshinori Shigeie picked ambassador to South Korea
ASAHI (Page 4) (Slightly abridged)
August 8, 2007
The government decided in a cabinet meeting on Aug. 7 to appoint a
number of ambassadors, including Ambassador in charge Okinawan
Affairs Toshinori Shigeie as ambassador to the Republic of Korea
(ROK) and Ambassador to Laos Makoto Katsura as ambassador to the
Philippines. The official announcements were made yesterday.
Ambassador to the ROK Toshinori Shigeie: Graduated from Hitotsubashi
University and entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in
1969; ambassador in charge of Okinawan affairs from March 2006 to
Aug. 24, 2007, after serving in such posts as director general of
the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau; age 62.
Ambassador to Bulgaria Tsuneharu Takeda: Graduated from Keio
University and got hired by ITOCHU Co. in 1969; president of Central
Engineering & Construction Co. from June 2005 through June 2007,
after serving as ITOCHU board member in charge of the Kansai area;
age 63.
Ambassador to the Netherlands Minoru Shibuya: Graduated from the
University of Tokyo and joined MOFA in 1970; chief of protocol since
March 2005, after serving as ambassador to Pakistan and other posts;
age 60.
Ambassador to Panama Makoto Misawa: Graduated from the University of
Tokyo and joined the then Construction Ministry in 1970; president
of the Central Engineering and Construction Co. since November 2005,
after serving in such posts as director general of the Housing
Bureau; age 59.
Ambassador to Kenya Shigeo Iwatani: Graduated from Hitotsubashi
University and entered MOFA in 1973; consul general in Honolulu
since September 2005, after serving as minister at the embassy in
Germany and other posts; age 56.
Ambassador to Qatar Yukio Kitazume: Graduated from Tohoku University
and entered MITI in 1973; advisor to Nippon Export and Investment
Insurance from April to July 2007, after serving in such posts as
director general of the Patent Office's General Administration
Department; age 56.
Ambassador to Guatemala Kazumi Suzuki: Graduated from Hitotsubashi
University and joined MOFA in 1973; consul general in Barcelona
since December 2003, after serving in such posts as minister at the
embassy in Nepal; age 57.
Ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura: Left the University of
Tokyo in mid-course; joined MOFA in 1971; ambassador to Laos since
July 2004, after serving in such posts as consul general in Geneva;
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age 59.
Ambassador to Burma (Myanmar) Yasuaki Nogawa: Graduated from
Hitotsubashi University and joined MOFA in 1973; executive director
of Agriculture and Livestock Industries since August 2005, after
serving in such posts as consul general in Sydney; age 58.
Ambassador to Nepal Tatsuo Mizuno: Graduated from the University of
Tokyo and Joined MOFA in 1973; general auditor of Nippon Automated
Cargo Clearance System Operations Organization since September 2005,
after serving in such posts as consul general in Auckland; age 59.
Ambassador to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Tsutomu Hiraoka: Graduated
from the University of Tokyo and entered MOFA in 1973; ambassador to
Nepal since September 2004, after serving in such posts as consul
general in Edinburgh; age 60.
Ambassador to Malaysia Masahiko Horie: Graduated from Osaka
University and joined MOFA in 1973; ambassador to Qatar since July
2004, after serving in such posts as minister at the embassy in
France; age 61.
Ambassador to Laos Masaaki Miyashita: Left Keio University graduate
school in mid-course; entered MOFA in 1973; ambassador to Zambia
since October 2004 and concurrently ambassador to Malawi since
November 2004, after serving in such posts as consul general in
Melbourne; age 60.
Chief of Protocol Yuichi Kusumoto: Graduated from Doshisha
University and joined MOFA in 1971; ambassador Uzbekistan since July
2004 and concurrently ambassador to Tajikistan since August 2004,
after serving in such posts as consul general in Khabarovsk; age
(8) What is behind Abe's plan to meet son of war tribunal judge Pal
despite possible reactions from US, Asia
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 24) (Full)
August 16, 2007
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stayed away from Yasukuni Shrine
yesterday, the anniversary of the end of World War II. But during
his visit to India in late August, Abe is scheduled to meet the
eldest son of the late Radhabinod Pal, who as a judge at the
International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo Trial)
insisted that all the Class-A war criminals should be found not
guilty. Abe will also meet a descendant of Subhas Chandra Bose, a
hero in the Indian Independence Movement who was in communication
with wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo. The meeting, which is seen
as part of his policy of emerging from the postwar regime, is
expected to evoke negative reactions from the United States and
Asian countries. Despite such a possibility, why has he arranged the
Last October, Prime Minister Abe made these replies in House of
Representatives Budget Committee meetings: "The Class-A war
criminals were tried for crimes against peace, but that concept was
formed at that stage"; and, "Historians should judge who should be
held responsible for starting the war and to what extent they were.
The government is not in the position of handing down a judgment."
But the prime minister is about to expose his historical views to a
global audience by meeting with the relatives of Pal and Bose.
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NGO Peace Depo President Hiromichi Umebayashi cynically commented:
"His act is tantamount to a politician rehashing arguments on the
Tokyo Trial. He might be hoping to prove his historical views are
Umebayashi indicated that the planned meeting might be taken as a
move to deny Japan's responsibility for the war. Although the Tokyo
War Crimes Trials carry only a political meaning for the US, there
is hatred toward the war criminals among Asian peoples. They might
take the meeting as showing the rising influence of those willing to
revive what Japan used to be. "
Sophia University Professor Yoshinori Murai said: "Although it is
inconceivable that an impact will appear immediately, the image of
Japan being a peace-loving nation in the postwar period has changed
over the past several years due to the dispatch of Self-Defense
Force (SDF) troops to Iraq and other reasons. I doubt that the prime
minister's meeting with the relatives of Pal and Bose will work
favorably for Japanese companies' operations overseas."
The Issuikai, a new rightist group, has held a Buddhist service for
Bose on the anniversary of his death (Aug. 18) every year, defining
him as a person who echoed Japan's just cause of the "Greater East
Asia War." Because of this, President Kimura welcomes the prime
minister's meeting with Bose's son, saying: "The meeting probably
will be a historic stage for the prime minister to show that he has
not forgotten his old friends and that the winner in Asia that
achieved economic growth also has a kind heart. The meeting is not
bad, in light of Japan emerging from the postwar regime." But he
added that he did not think the timing was proper.
Kimura speculated: "If he had contacted such persons even before he
became prime minister, the meeting would not appear to be abrupt to
me. The idea of meeting them might have emerged at someone's
suggestion with the aim of recovering the devastating loss he
suffered in the July House of Councillors election."
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa declined the
request made by US Ambassador Schieffer after the Upper House
election to support the government's plan to extend the
Antiterrorism Special Measures Law. This refusal raised Ozawa's
reputation. Some observers see a sense of rivalry behind the prime
minister's decision to meet the descendents of Pal and Bose.
Professor Murai made this critical comment: "He is unmindful of what
part of his policy was rejected by the voters and why he suffered
the crushing defeat in the earlier election. He is quite
insensitive. If he decided to meet the relative of Pal in order to
avoid criticism from China over the Yasukuni Shrine issue, he is
completely blind to Asia."
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