Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Prime Minister's Last Visit to Yasukuni?

I can't post on my Gadfly-on-The-Wall blog, okay? So I'm starting this new one, just in case. So...

Gadfly on The Wall にポストできません。そこで、とりあえずこの新しいブログを始めてしまいます。というわけで...

With Prime Minister Koizumizi's trip to the Yasukuni Shrine early in the morning, of 8.15*, Mr. Abe's unacknowledged April visit has receded into the background. Not that it had made such a big splash in the first place, with little more than potshots from opposition party leaders coming his way, and instead a conspicuous lack of meaningful response from Chinese authorities. Indeed, it's hard to lodge an official complaint to something an official will not officially confirm. If this is an indication of Mr. Abe's intents re Yauskuni during his tenure, then we have reason to believe:

a) Mr. Abe's relationship with Mr. Hu will be much better than people fear; and
b) Mr. Abe is a much smarter cookie than people give him credit for being; while
c) Mr. Koizumi did Mr. Abe a great favor by lowering the bar to the limit.

小泉首相が8月15日(注)早朝、靖国神社に参拝したことで、安倍官房長官の4月参拝が ― といっても本人はその確認に応じないのだが ― すっかりかすんでしまった。もっとも、初めからたいした反響が喚起されたわけではなかった。野党首脳たちからの散発的な攻撃はあったが、むしろそれより中国当局からのそれなりの公式反応がなかったことが目立っている。確かに、公人が公けに確認してくれないことに対して公式に抗議するというのは、容易ではない。で、もしこれが首相在任中の靖国問題への対応に関する安倍氏の意図の現れであるとしたら、次のようなことが言えるのではないだろうか:

a)安倍首相の胡錦濤主席との関係は、おそれられているよりは、ずっとよいものになるであろう、
b)安倍氏は、多くの人々が考えているよりずっと知恵、策略に富んでいる人物である、そして
c)小泉首相は、期待値を押し下げるという点において、安倍氏に大変な置き土産を残してあげた。

This bodes well for the personal relationship between Prime Minister Abe and other members of his cabinet and their Chinese counterparts. And believe me, they will need that when the real test comes, as the East China gas fields issue comes to an impasse, well before next year's Upper House elections.

このことは、安倍首相とその閣僚たちと中国側のカウンターパートたちとの間の個人的関係にとってよい先触れである。だが、東シナ海のガス田をめぐる問題が、来年の参院選も迫らないうちに行き詰まってくると、それが必要にして十分になるか、それこそは予断を許さないのである。

*About this issue of specific dates, will someone tell me what's so wrong about 8.15? Now I would worry if the Prime Minister chose 12.08, the day Japan started the Pacific War, or some such date of agressive symbolism. But the day we surrendered unconditionally? Can anyone think of a better day to symbolize our sorrow, humility, and regret?

(注)この日取り問題だが、8月15日のどこがそんなにいけないのだろうか。もしわが国の首相が日本が太平洋戦争開戦に踏み切った12月8日とか、それに類した攻撃の象徴となっている日を選んだとすれば、それは私だって心配する。しかし、かりそめにもわが国が無条件降伏した日ではないか。我々の悲哀と謙譲と改悟の念を主張するのに、これ以上よい日があれば、御教示願いたい。

33 comments:

カイ said...

15 August is the official end of WWII. But there's nothing wrong with the date. It is the Yasukuni visit that is the crux of the problem. There is a better way to symbolize the Japanese people's sorrow, humility, and regret, and it doesn't have to involve visiting a shrine where 14 Class A criminals - and chief protagonist Hideki Tojo - are enshrined. Can you imagine Angela Merkel of Germany visiting the graves of Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Adolf Eichmann?!

Jun Okumura said...

Dan81: Thank you for your response. As you may guess from an earlier post in an earlier incarnation that I have reposted here, my take is that it is the politics, not the War Criminals nor their classification, that is at the heart of the Yuasukuni issue. And the politics is firmly rooted in the particular version of history that Yushukan, for the Yasukuni but not quite of it. Unless Yasukuni divests itself of this relationship, the problem will fester, both here and abroad.

Dan81:早速のお答えに感謝いたします。旧ブログから転載した別のポストからもお察しいただけるように、私の理解では、靖国問題の核心にあるのは、戦犯の分類ではなく、その政治性にあります。そして、その政治性は、靖国のために存在しながら今一歩のところで靖国そのものではないという、かの「遊就館」が捧持している得意な歴史観にがっちりと根をおろしているのです。 靖国神社がこの関係を絶たない限り、この問題は、いつまでも尾を引くことになるしょう。

Incidentally, Tojo-Hitler is a popular Anglo-Saxon analogy that does not hold water, any more than equating Truman with Tojo does. Otherwise, the Chinese authorities would not be willing to turn a blind eye to everyone in the Japanese cabinet except the prime minister, the foreign minister and the chief of cabinet. I'll be happy to discuss this at length with you the next time we meet.

ところで、東条=ヒットラーという、アングロサクソンの間でとりわけ人口に膾炙している対比は、東条=トルーマンというそれと同じくらい的外れです。そうでなければ、中国当局が総理、外相及び官房長官を除く日本の閣僚全員をお目こぼししてくれるはずがないではありませんか。今度お会いしたときに本件についてじっくり話し合いをしてもいいですよ。

カイ said...

I am not from China, but as an ethnic chinese, I disagree that the war criminals are independent of this issue, although I agree that politics is the main driving force.

The only difference between Tojo and Hitler is that while Hitler was a dictator, Tojo was the wartime premier in a democratic, though militaristic, government. But similarly, both had the full backing of their respective cabinets and chose to pursue the aggressive policies that ultimately led them down the war path; as such the analogy is rather valid. Contrary to what you said, the Chinese and Korean authorities did not turn a blind eye to the Cabinet's shrine visits, but probably feel that if they could get Koizumi to cease his visits, the rest of the cabinet may well follow his example.

And don't you find it rather ridiculous that Yushukan paints a picture of Japan waging a war of self-defense. Self-defense from what? From trade sanctions and oil embargoes? If one sticks to this flawed and inconsistent reasoning, the ironic outcome is that North Korea would actually be 'justified' to attack the US and Japan for exactly the same reasons.

Jun Okumura said...

Excuse me, I thought you were someone else...

"I disagree that the war criminals are independent of this issue, although I agree that politics is the main driving force."

I am not arguing that “the war criminals are independent of this issue”. My point is that Japanese Shinto, which predates Yasukuni by thousands of years, has amore than enpugh precedent for deifying even malevolent spirits. (The wonders of polytheism. But I digress.) I besides, distinction by class is not a valid moral distinction. Is a class A war criminal whose sin was consists of bad judgment, negligence, and acquiescence any more guilty in the eyes of God, the gods, or whatever powers that be, than a class B criminal who orders the wanton slaughter of civilians in retribution for a hard-fought battle?

"The only difference between Tojo and Hitler is that while Hitler was a dictator, Tojo was the wartime premier in a democratic, though militaristic, government. But similarly, both had the full backing of their respective cabinets and chose to pursue the aggressive policies that ultimately led them down the war path; as such the analogy is rather valid."

There are many, many other differences. The question is, which ones are valid? If you think that Hitler invading Poland was his only serious offence, then yes, you are right. If you think that genocide is, then you are wrong. And full backing of their cabinets is a relatively minor point, though, for the record, Tojo did not have the backing of his Foreign Minister, among other people. But I would expect that a Chinese would say that the choice had been made in 1937 (or even 1931, if one is of the Han people, long before Tojo was in a position to do so. My concern, as you can see, stems from my concern for our war on our millennial neighbors, not the colonial one. To put it another way, am I arguing with your ethnicity, or your nationality?

"Contrary to what you said, the Chinese and Korean authorities did not turn a blind eye to the Cabinet's shrine visits, but probably feel that if they could get Koizumi to cease his visits, the rest of the cabinet may well follow his example."

You nailed me! I will retract my use of the words “blind eye". Instead, I will merely remind you that the Chinese authorities said thngs would be okay if the Big Three stayed away. I don’t think they were naive enough to believe “that the rest of the cabinet may well follow his example”.

"And don't you find it rather ridiculous that Yushukan paints a picture of Japan waging a war of self-defense. Self-defense from what? From trade sanctions and oil embargoes? If one sticks to this flawed and inconsistent reasoning, the ironic outcome is that North Korea would actually be 'justified' to attack the US and Japan for exactly the same reasons."

I have a qualified yes to your first rhetorical (for surely that is what it is; if you’ve read my posts, anyway) question. When Japan declared war on the US, it faced a choice between a politically humiliating and (in the short run) economically damaging climb-down from its actions of the last couple of decades. But to not only blame it on the dastardly Americans and Europeans, but also to deny that we were piling on when it came to our Asian neighbors, that is ridiculous. But as an aside, I have sympathy for Kim Jong-il. Remember, he didn’t ask to be the son of the Dear Leader. I’m sure he’s quite a personable chap. (Ask Mandy.) The problem is, at this point, the best he can hope for if he gives up, is the fate of Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo (show trial, death penalty/22 1/2-year jail sentence plus pardon); at worst, channeling Ceausecu. And the political and military elite know what’s in store for them too. We do the best we can, with cards we are dealt.

Nikolas K. Gvosdev said...

Jun:

What did you think of the proposal for a north-east Asia regional forum advanced last year by Kawaguchi and Choi (some of which was printed in TNI)? Does that address some of these concerns that Ikenberry perhaps did not raise?

Jun Okumura said...

Nikolas:

グヴォズデフ様:

I was very skeptical of the proposal when it came out. (Sorry, Ian. Sorry, Kawaguchi sempai.) As a rule, I don't like multilateral gabfests (since even the ones begun with the best of intents tend to outlive their useful lifetimes, to linger in the shadows of the diplomatic corridors). And I didn’t see how this one could get off the ground in the first place.

あの提案があったとき、私は極めて懐疑的であった。(ごめん、イアン、申しわけありません、川口先輩。)一般論として、私は、多国間茶話会というものが好きではない。(どれほど意欲的に始められたものでも、賞味期限が切れた後も、外交の舞台裏、廊下の陰でひっそりと息をつないでいると言う傾向がある。)それに、これはそもそもどうやって初めから軌道に乗せられるのか、皆目見当がつかないでいた。

It could be argued that something like this is emerging in the Six-Parties-Minus-One phase of the standoff with the hermit kingdom. Then there are the Japan-China-South Korea arrangements in maritime emergency cooperation, enhanced cooperation under the regional currency swap arrangement and other things that escape my pitiful memory. A regime change here, a regime change there, and the day may come when a Northeast Asia forum would be workable. But the very conditions that make this possible will likely render it obsolete. In the meantime, we five are too far apart on the meaty issues (energy, Taiwan immediately come to mind for that.

いわゆる六カ国協議から北朝鮮を抜いた集まりという段階でそれらしきものが台頭してきていると言う議論は可能かもしれない。それに加えて、海上の緊急事態に関する日中韓の共同行動、地域的通貨スワップ取極めの下におけるより高度な共同行動、その他私の乏しい記憶を越えた仕組みもすでにある。だから、そこここで政体の変革が起きれば、北東アジア・フォーラムが機能しうるような日が来るかもしれない。しかし、そうなったらそうなったで、それを可能にする諸条件こそは、おそらくそれを不要にしてしまう条件になるであろう。しかも、それまでの間、それをするには、重要な問題(直ちに思いつくものとしてエネルギー、台湾がある)についてあまりにも我々五カ国の立場が隔たっている。

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