Shinzo Abe Visits Pearl Harbor: Breakthrough or More of the Same?

special editorial by Inez Hollander, PhD

abevisitspearlharbor

The Indo Project was pleased to see that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit and honor the victims of Pearl Harbor, which was a breakthrough and a motion for continued world peace, which we applaud and honor.

It was good to hear that Mr. Abe acknowledged the Japanese atrocities which pulled America into a war that, in Southeast Asia, was terminated by the dropping of the atom bombs. To hear him reference that history was positive and good, especially in light of some Japanese conservatives who still feed questionable propaganda to the Japanese people that Pearl Harbor was Japan’s revenge for the atom bombs.

We were touched by Mr. Abe’s reference to American servicemen and their families whose lives were impacted forever on that fateful day but we were also disturbed by what was left out: Japanese death camps all over Asia, torture, starvation, medical experiments, executions, the Rape of Nanking, comfort women (sex slaves) and death marches through the jungle.

Japan came to Hawaii to acknowledge and not to apologize, just as President Obama visited Hiroshima to acknowledge and not apologize but it would be helpful for the world community and the prevention of war that in order to understand what hard-won peace is all about, we also need to fully acknowledge and not deny what has happened in wars, and in particular WWII in which Japan was an aggressor like Nazi Germany. Yet Japan hasn’t given a full accounting or taken full responsibility for that war and its many victims.

In contrast to Germany, which has honored and paid its victims while also educating the next generation in that every German school child will visit a former concentration camp/memorial, Japan is awfully reticent about what Emperor Hirohito’s soldiers have done to civilians after they conquered different countries all over Asia. The Indo Project will stand by the many victims and war dead who died under the Japanese regime in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) as long as the Japanese government (as well as the Dutch government) seem complicit in trivializing and silencing this war and its victims.

We will take Mr. Abe at his word that Japan is a peaceful nation and hope that these good diplomatic relations between Japan and the US will continue under the Trump administration, but we also ask that Mr. Abe will follow the good graces and remorse of the current Japanese Emperor Akihito who, time and again, has been trying to bring to light that Japan committed serious war crimes which have not been fully addressed or apologized for by the Japanese government. For a progressive and enlightened nation like Japan, this kind of censorship of its own history is troublesome at best.

Mr. Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor was a start but the world needs to know what exactly happened in Asia between Pearl Harbor and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki— this history, the war dead and traumatized victims in Asia and beyond are hardly commemorated in the same way as the war dead in Europe. Japan plays a big if not the most important part in this cover up and we ask Mr. Abe to continue his quest for peace and true commemoration by going the extra mile and come clean, with the Japanese people and the world. Only then will the victims and descendants of these victims experience peace in the proper sense of the word.

5 Comments on “Shinzo Abe Visits Pearl Harbor: Breakthrough or More of the Same?

  1. I watched the whole speech of Abe with growing pain and disgust
    and was personally offended by what he said.
    He was just partly summing up the tragedy that happened to the Arizona
    and its sailors. Nothing about a vicious and sneeky attack on America without being in war with Japan.
    Being a survivor of the brutal Japanese emperial armies that murdered, pillage, raped and slaughtered hundreds of thousands innocent peoples
    on a scale that never had happened before.

    Mentioning only the sailors that went under with the Arizona Abe was referring to was just a childish way of belittling four years of brutal aggression and killing and raping.

    I could hear the spite in his voice that Japan didn’t possessed the atom bomb before America. They would have killed millions more and Japan would have occupied ALL of the Pacific countries including America.
    I could hear that he was sorry for Japan to have lost and that Japan had to accept the goodness of the American people. That Japan lost face because America did not retaliate but build up Japan and its people and supported them tremendously and brought wealth to them instead of a punishment.

    You could hear the arrogance in his voice like that of his of war crimes accused grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who pillage and murdered thousands of Chinese people. While sitting on his grandfather’s lap he must have picked up the same arrogance,
    These historical crimes are still not known by the Japanese people.
    What the Japanese people know is Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    I’m personal offended because Japan imprisoned my father and made him a slave laborer working under extreme cruelties on the Burma Death Railway. He came out a broken father. The Railway that killed more than 12,000 Americans, Australians, British, Dutch. And this was just One of the many atrocities they did.
    I’m not even mentioning the Rape of Nanking, Shanghai, Manilla, Singapore and Indonesia.
    I’m personally offended because they imprisoned my mother, my baby brother, me, uncles, aunts and many cousins friends.
    That they made us POW’s without food, medical and let us starve to die by the thousands and thousands. The Japanese way of a slow passive Holocaust.

    Hundred of thousands died because of Japan’s aggression.
    Abe didn’t even touch any, any of their atrocities.

    To me it sounded as if he was at Pearl Harbor as a not involved outsider who in a stupid way tried to explain that an attack happened on a ship by an enemy other
    than Japan!
    How could somebody get away with this kind of stupid cold rhetoric.

    I was personally offended by his cold refusal to put ANY blame on Japan.
    It was like he himself was personally involved in the massacres and tried to wiggle out of his guilt. Off course his family was personally and deeply involved
    in the atrocities of this war, so he has a personal stake in the guilt and in a stupid way tries to hide it.

    For us survivors there is no day or night that we not think about what the Japanese did to us!

    I liked President Obama mentioning a short comment about the many more casualties of the whole war than only those of the Arizona. Good for him!

  2. It’s sad but true, the world before WW2 was totally different . After WW2 former colonies became independent countries. Many after fighting for their Independence and political posturing of the involved nations. There is more to all that, but I have to write a book to explain it all. The politicians that are currently our “leaders”, are all born after WW2 and have no clue what has happened before, as well as the majority of people, born after WW2. This is mainly because, the actual history of what happened and why, is NOT taught in our schools and the schools of the countries involved. The older generation who did experience the horrors of WW2, can only hope that the “now generation” SEES and UNDERSTAND that drastic changes are needed to correct all.

  3. And now, just hours after the awkward encounter at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese defense minister visits the Yasukuni shrine? This makes everything a farce, a disgusting show of hypocrisy and insolence. My heart goes out to the survivors of the Arizona and to the millions of victims of the Japanese aggression. May they have the strength to endure this ultimate insult and the willingness to forgive something that is unforgivable and unspeakable.

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