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How Japan's Emperor (Subtly) Criticized Shinzo Abe

Emperor Akihito expressed "deep remorse" for the war at a memorial service and "a deep and renewed sense of sorrow," he did not openly attack the somewhat ambiguous August 14 (2015) statement of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe  on the same subject - the latter's remarks were filled with rhetorical twists and did not offer a new apology to Japan's wartime victims.

It was the first time that the emperor uttered the phrase "deep remorse" at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo during the annual so-called "National Memorial Service for the War Dead."

The subtle gesture of releasing the surrender speech of his father as well as pictures of the rundown bunker in which Hirohito finally admitted utter and complete military defeat can be seen as a clear indication of what Akihito thinks about Japan's devastating wartime experience, as well as Shinzo Abe's historical revisionism.

As my colleague Yuki Tatsumi already pointed out (See: "Why You Should Listen to What Japan's Emperor Says on August 15"),  the emperor has identified "four dates that should not be forgotten" by the Japanese people from the watershed year 1945: June 23 (the Battle of Okinawa), August 6 (the atomic bombing of Hiroshima), August 9 (the atomic bombing of Nagasaki), and August 15 (the end of the war).

"It is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war, starting with the Manchurian Incident of 1931, as we consider the future direction of our country," Emperor Akihito already said during his 2015 New Year's address. The Manchurian Incident was a pretext for the Japanese invasion of northeastern China in 1931.

In 1936, Nobusuke Kishi, Shinzo Abe's grandfather, was sent to Manchuria to push for the industrialization of Japan's de-facto colony with the help of Chinese forced labor. After the war he was arrested as an alleged Class-A war criminal and accused of playing an instrumental part in setting up Manchuria's (back then known as Manchuko) wartime economy which was "designed to enable Japan to carry on an aggressive war." Kishi, however, was never indicted and became Japan's head of government in the 1950s. During his premiership, Kishi pushed for constitutional revision and rearmament but failed. Shinzo Abe appears to have taken up the family's baton in both instances and it is his sense of family honor that perhaps has Emperor Akihito worried the most.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jul 11th, 2022 at 09:11:19 PM EST

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