Shinzo Abe’s nationalistic streak under scrutiny – FT.com


Shinzo Abe’s nationalistic streak under scrutiny

[Financial Times By Jonathan Soble in Tokyo: Last updated: April 28, 2013 5:22 pm

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, has never hidden his nationalistic streak.

From his first stint in office in 2006-2007 to his successful campaign for a second chance last December, the conservative Mr Abe has regularly painted his country’s official pacifism as outdated, its school curriculum as insufficiently patriotic and its apologies for its early-20th century imperialism as humiliating.

But now, after four months in office during which such politically sensitive issues had taken a back seat to his popular efforts to stimulate the economy, Mr Abe’s rightward-facing world view – and its potential for complicating Japan’s relations with its neighbours – is again coming under scrutiny.

During the past week, Mr Abe has defended visits by more than 100 lawmakers from his party to a controversial war memorial loathed by China and South Korea; questioned whether Japan had “invaded” neighbouring Asian countries during the second world war; and partially disavowed an apology issued by a predecessor for Japan’s colonial conquests.

The parade of visitors to the Yasukuni war shrine, which included Taro Aso, the finance minister and deputy prime minister, along with Mr Abe’s string of statements, helped to ratchet up a confrontation with China over maritime territory. It also set back Japanese efforts to improve relations with South Korea and drew a quiet rebuke from the US.

“If anything, Abe became more nationalistic during his time out of power,” said Jun Iio, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “Now that he’s riding high in the polls, he feels he doesn’t have to restrain himself.”

An American official said the Obama administration had privately expressed concern to Japanese diplomats over Mr Abe’s comments. Washington is particularly worried about a possible deterioration in relations between Japan and South Korea, both crucial allies whose co-operation it deems essential to its diplomatic and security initiatives in the region, including efforts to thwart North Korea’s nuclear programme.

On Sunday, Mr Abe left for Russia for the first trip to that country by a Japanese leader in a decade. He and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, are said to get on well personally and Mr Abe is keen to draw the two countries closer, to act as a counterweight to China’s rise and to allow more Japanese access to Russian natural gas, crucial to Japan after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

There had been talk of a possible breakthrough in resolving a territorial dispute left over from the war, when the then Soviet Union seized four Japanese-held islands to Japan’s far north. Japan demands their return, and the issue has prevented the countries from signing a formal peace treaty after nearly 70 years, but officials on both sides say a flurry of diplomacy since Mr Abe’s election has not pushed things forward decisively.

In Moscow, the leaders are likely to agree to make renewed efforts in negotiations.

Many experts in Japan had expected Mr Abe to keep a tighter grip on his nationalistic impulses and those of his Liberal Democratic party until elections for the upper house of parliament in July. The LDP does not have a majority in the chamber, and the prevailing logic has been that Mr Abe would not risk putting off moderate and liberal voters.

However, with the stock market soaring and opinion polls giving him more than 70 per cent support, Mr Abe looks to be on course for a strong victory. He may in any case see tough talk on security and diplomacy as a vote-winner rather than a risk: before leaving for Moscow on Sunday he donned military fatigues and climbed aboard a tank at an event sponsored by an online broadcaster.

“Provocations against Japan’s sovereign sea and land are continuing, but they must not be tolerated,” he said at the event, which was part of an anniversary observation of the end of the US occupation that followed the war.

China said last week’s visits to Yasukuni, where 14 convicted war criminals are honoured alongside fallen soldiers, showed Japan had failed to acknowledge its “aggressive past”. South Korea put off a visit to Tokyo by its foreign minister and protested to Japan’s ambassador to Seoul.

The incident coincided with a flare-up of Japan-China tensions over the disputed Senkaku Islands, known by the Chinese as Diaoyu. China sent eight surveillance ships, an unprecedented number, into waters claimed by Japan as a group of boats piloted by Japanese rightwing activists arrived in the area for what it said was a survey of the local fishing grounds.

In parliament, Mr Abe said his ministers were free to visit the shrine and would not “bow to threats”. In a series of exchanges with opposition lawmakers over historical issues, he declined to say whether he believed Japan had wrongly invaded its neighbours, saying there was “no international definition” of invasion.

He also withheld full endorsement of an apology issued in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the end of the second world war, by Tomiichi Murayama, then prime minister. “The Abe cabinet is not adopting the Murayama statement exactly as is,” he said.

Meanwhile, an LDP committee on education decided to seek revision of the so-called “neighbouring country clause” in guidelines for Japanese school textbooks, another frequent history-related flash point with other Asian countries. The clause states that textbook writers should take relations with Japan’s neighbours into account when describing the war and the colonial period leading up to it.

Koichi Hagiuda, an LDP parliamentarian on the committee, said the clause had “finished playing its role”.
















  1. streak ですが、俗語としての馬鹿騒ぎ(ストリーキングみたいな)でもいいのかもしれませんが、下記の定義のように、人の性格、気質、傾向(それも好ましくない意味での)をさすことばのようです。ひょっとして両方の意味をもたせていたりして。

    2. an element of a specified kind in someone’s character: a ruthless streak. (Concise Oxford Dictionary)

    2. a part of a person’s character, especially an unpleasant part
    (Oxford Advanced Learne’s Dictionary)


    ◇a ruthless/vicious/mean streak
    ◇a streak of cruelty

    under scrutiny は、監視下なのですが、これは見出しで、本文にある coming under scrutiny の come が省略されたのだと思います。


  2. ありがとうございます。



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