Is the Japanese government turning more nationalistic and militaristic every day? The evidence tells us so. This week Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s comments about WWII sex slaves caused a lot of offense in nearby Asian countries who suffered brutal Japanese occupation during the 1900s. Here is a look at some of the nationalistic noise that has been emerging from Japan this year.
May 17, 2013: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo said in an interview that a visit to Yasukuni Shrine is ‘natural’. The shrine is seen by many in Asia as a symbol of Japanese militarism and high-profile officials’ visits have caused diplomatic with problems with China and Korea for a number of decades. Abe, back in Oct 17, 2012, paid a visit to shrine despite sharp criticism.
May 17, 2013. Defending Hashimoto’s ‘sex slaves wwere necessary’ remarks (read below), lawmaker Nishimura said during a party meeting, “We better fight back by telling them that the words ‘comfort women’ and ‘sex slaves’ are completely different” (thereby insinuating that comfort women had voluntarily sold sex in exchange for monetary benefit) and added “there are numerous South Korean prostitutes roaming around Japan.”
May 15, 2013: Prime Minister Abe again stirred up anger with his latest militaristic photo opportunity. Abe appeared riding a jet with the number 731: the same number of a notorious Japanese research facility that ran cruel human experiments on war captives, mostly Koreans and Chinese, during the war. The Nelson report stated the act was “equivalent to a German prime minister wearing a Nazi uniform and explaining that it was done for fun”.
May 13, 2013: Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said women who were forced to act as sex slaves by the Japanese military during World War 2, were “necessary” to maintain discipline in the Japanese army.
– Historians say up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea and China became so-called “comfort women” – sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in military brothels. These girls were between 12 and 19 years old and their average age is believed to be around 16. They had been either abducted or tricked under false pretenses that they would be sent to work as factory workers in Japan and be able to send home money.
April 23, 2013: During the Japanese Upper House session, Abe said Japanese war time “aggression” has yet to be determined and “can be viewed differently” – thereby denying the 1995 statement by Tomiichi Murayama who apologized for Japanese colonial rule and “aggression that cause tremendous damage”.
Jan 28, 2013 : Abe, in his first policy speech at the parliament, said he intends to amend the post-World War 2 constitution. He added he will start by changing Article 96 of the constitution, a move that may alter the definition of Japan’s armed forces. US occupying forces, after the war, imposed the constitution to limit Japanese army’s role to defence. Abe’s plan is underway now and has raised tensions in the region.