During a recent press conference, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that he will not be offering anymore apologies for Japan’s role in World War II.
August 15 will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of military operations in World War II’s Pacific theater. For those unfamiliar with the combatant lines of World War II, suffice it to say that Nazi Germany ran the European theater and Imperial Japan ran the Pacific theater, at least as far as the Axis Powers were concerned. For many Westerners however, 1940’s Germany and Japan are not remembered today as the Axis Powers but rather more simply as “the bad guys.”
Up until recently, Japan officially associated itself of yesteryear as one of the “bad guys” as well. Japan’s self-image may be changing however. While the Japan’s seated Prime Ministers during the 50th and 60th anniversary of the end of WWII went to great measures to publicly apologize for the atrocities committed by the Japanese army, current Prime Minister Abe has refused to follow his predecessors’ leads. RT reports that PM Abe told Japanese media that,
“I uphold the basic thinking behind past war apologies, which means there isn’t a need to reiterate them.”
In other words, PM Abe is in effect telling everyone, “We already said sorry. Let’s move on now.”
Such sentiment comes on the heels of a highly controversial build-up of Japan’s “non-military.” A recent VICE News article reports on a recent concerted effort on the part of the Japanese government to raise public awareness of what is known as the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).
See, Japan is technically not allowed to have a military. After the conclusion of World War II, America was quick to take steps to prevent Japan from ever again being able to wage war. In accordance to such eagerness, the American drafters of the Japanese Constitution included Article 9 which reads,
“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
PM Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party understand Article 9, however, to be silent as to the right to national self-defense. As a result, PM Abe has backed a massive JSDF budget increase which has lead to, among other militaristic implementations, the installment of a brand new, state-of-the-art warship. This warship will serve as an addition to Japan’s relatively robust naval fleet.
The refusal of additional wartime apologies coupled with the a massive uptick in defense spending seems to point to a new day for the people of Japan and the Pacific region as a whole. For more information, see 1930’s Germany.
[Image Credit to Pakistan Defense]