This article seems to suggest the United States was behind Abe upholding the apology; however, I disagree. In Japanese, the word for crisis is “危機” (kiki), which means “danger/fear” and “opportunity/mechanism”. I think Japan created this kiki and used it to their advantage.
Some people consider Prime Minster Abe a hawkish, right-winger; however, I feel he’s successfully treading the line between what his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) coalition members and constituents want… as well as doing what is right for his country.
When I first heard he was (again–first time was 2007) looking at revising the apology, I spoke with another professor on this issue to get his concerns. He agreed with the Korean response that Japan would face isolation and was asking me for my opinions of why Japan would do this… Here were my three responses as to ‘why’:
1) Korea has constantly stated Japan has not apologized (enough) nor have they faced historical facts (related to ianfu–again, I try not to say “Comfort” and “Women” as I disagree with the English translation…see my blog about it here).
2) Korea has been progressively provoking Japan, with both ianfu statue/memorials throughout the United States and the publishing of a manga (comic) describing the Korean view of ianfu (who, by Japanese law, were Japanese citizens during this time)
3) Korea’s new foreign policy strategy of targeting Textbooks in the United States to change the internationally-known body of water “Sea of Japan” to the local Korean translation, or what they call the “East Sea” (I wrote an op-ed/blogged about it here as well)
I then responded that I believed Japan was merely poking Korea in the eye. This immediately launched Abe into the news in both Korea, China and worldwide (bad news is still good publicity). I stated that I believed (and hoped) Japan would come back and use this rare opportunity to again (key word) officiate the apology in 1993/1995. By doing so, hopefully more Koreans would become aware that the Japanese have made an apology, and again has been reaffirmed. Responding to some of my earlier blogs, I actually had some US military members living in Korea tell me they were unaware Japan had ever apologized for the ianfu… A sign of Korean propaganda at its best? (worst?)
Abe also used this “opportunity” to take another shot at Korea (and China) by saying, “We must be humble regarding history…Issues regarding history should not be politicized or made diplomatic issues. I think that research on history should be left in the hands of intellectuals and experts.” Will Korea and China heed Abe’s words? Unfortunately, I feel his words will fall on deaf ears.
What are your thoughts on my hypothesis? Or do you think it more believable the Japanese would bow down to American pressures? …Even though Abe clearly did not listen with regards to American pressures regarding his planned Yasukuni visit? Let me know.
Read the article here: http://reut.rs/1m5zl1e