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Shinzo Abe's unconvincing, over-calculated speech

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

08-13-2015 15:25 BJT

By Zhou Yongsheng, professor & PhD supervisor, deputy director, center for Japanese studies, Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University

At the important juncture of the 70th anniversary of World War II, it is quite understandable that a speech that states a government's position is carefully and cautiously planned and drafted. The 70th anniversary speech by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, has already exceeded the scope of general policy planning. It has revealed Japan’s attitude towards its aggressive history: full of calculation, avoidance of sincerely facing the truth, constantly haggling over the wording and evading responsibility. The problem is that people all over the world are worrying and looking forward to the speech by Japanese leaders.

Seventy years after the war, one might expect that Japanese leaders could face up to the history frankly and express their sincere apology and reconciliation to the affected countries of East Asia. On the other hand, we also worry that based on the speech of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama at the 50th anniversary, Abe will delete the aggressive term, not to mention the contents concerning colonial rule and to say nothing of an apology or expression of good faith.

This worldwide concern has piled pressure on Abe's speech, in the face of which the Abe government has not defused it with sincerity but has instead haggled over every word, preparing to deliver a greatly diluted speech to the surprise of the world.

On August 6, Abe's private advisory panel report announced a "blueprint of the 21st century" that marks the 70th anniversary of end of Second World War. It summarized the history of the 20th century and referred to Japan's aggression. But in the explanatory notes, it mentioned that there is no unified definition of "aggression" in terms of international law and that there are still different opinions on events after the Mukden Incident, or what Chinese call the "September 18th Incident," being defined as "aggression". Other countries had the same circumstances as Japan, but only Japan's acts were defined as "aggression". This understanding has been resisted.

The tone of the first note chimes with Abe when he was speaking to the Diet in April 2013 on aggression against Korea: "There is no definition of aggression, academically and internationally". In fact, the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation have already defined Japan as an aggressive country. These are all international documents with the efficiency of international law. What definition of "aggression" does Japan want? The view of history revealed in the second note is even worse. By suggesting that opinions differ about whether all events after the September 18th Incident should be defined as aggressions, does the existence of different opinions prove that all Japan's action after the incident were not aggressive? Have there been any occasions where Japanese right wingers held a similar opinion with the international mainstream and anti-fascists? The connotation of the third note is that since old European colonialism in Asia and Africa is not defined as aggression then why are only Japan's actions defined as aggression?

From the above we can see that although the report referred to aggression, it tried hard to cover up the substance of Japan's aggression. It discussed an understanding of aggression in academic and cognitive terms and cited one-sided accusations by the international community about Japan which makes readers feel the word "aggression" was forced on Japan but its actual intention was to resist using the concept of "aggression" by citing three different pieces of evidence against the word.

The private advisory panel report was written by scholars   who hold similar view with Abe. So it is not surprised that the report offered such vague recognition for "aggression". In the form of notes, they tried hard to exclude using the concept of aggression. People naturally  feel it was doing exactly the same thing as Abe: He considered words cautiously and constantly went back on his words, one time using "aggression" but the next time under reduced international and domestic pressure, he said Japan cannot simply ape the original speech of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the 50th anniversary of the war, implying questions about words like "colonial rule," "aggression" and "apology". From the report by the panel, we can already recognize the calculated composition that characterize Abe's own speeches.

Whether a country can be accepted by the international community does not lie in shrewd calculations, but in the recognition of its role in an aggressive war, in the frank confrontation of its cruelty toward colonized countries, its aggressive crimes, in a sincere confession, in an apology and through obtaining the forgiveness of the people in those affected countries. If these basic, commonsense actions cannot be undertaken, is there any point of listening to any of Abe’s next 10 speeches?


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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