Japan-China Psy-ops by Erick San Juan
Political pundits believe that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe under the guise of making Japan ‘a normal state’ is systematically turning to the policy of re-militarization of the country and spreading nationalistic values especially among the youth of Japan’s society in the process. Along with the changes in their constitution towards gradual moving away from the postwar principles, attempting to forget some shameful pages in world history, Japan’s leader pays much attention to the restoration of the positions of the original Japanese confession – Shintoism. But ideas of Shintoism based on the myth of the divine origin of the Emperor and the Japanese nation have largely contributed to the growth of nationalism and militarism in prewar Japan and in great part has actually caused the beginning of the Second World War.
PM Shinzo Abe and many members of his administration are closely related to shintoists. Abe is one of the leaders of the biggest parliament association “Shinto” which comprises 240 MPs of both chambers of the country’s Parliament including 16 of the 19-member ministerial cabinet. For 84 years, Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the main Shinto ceremony in Ise Grand Shrine which serves as the Emperor’s family sanctuary and to show the unanimity of religion and state power.
PM Abe is known, as always been in touch with the administration of all-Japan Shinto association combing more than 80,000 shrines.
In April, 2013 a pilgrimage of almost 170 Japanese lawmakers and cabinet ministers including my friend, Finance Minister Taro Aso (also former Prime Minister) visited the Yasukuni Shrine, honoring Japan's war dead, including 14 World War II leaders convicted of atrocities. Such visit has sparked protests from neighboring countries especially from China and South Korea. Although for the former PM Taro Aso, there is nothing new about this that could create a negative effect on foreign relations among neighboring countries.
But this is not the way China and South Korea view such homage to a shrine of which is a clear reminder of militaristic Japan especially the recent visit of PM Shinzo Abe to Yasukuni Shrine last December 2013 that has created another wave of protests from its Asian neighbors particularly China. Why is this so?
Here is what Wikipedia has to say - 'The government of the People's Republic of China has been the most vocal critic of the shrine and some Japanese observers have suggested that the issue of Yasukuni Shrine is just as heavily tied to China's internal politics as it is to the historical conduct of Japan's military and the perceived degree of its remorse for its actions. They state that tolerance on the part of Communist Party of China authorities for large-scale public protests in mainland China against the shrine contrasts strongly with the authority exercised against any kind of domestic political dissent.'
One controversy of political visits to the shrine is the constitutionality of visits by the Prime Minister. In the Japanese Constitution, the separation of state and religion is explicit. Because the clause was written for the express purpose of preventing the return of State Shintoism, many question the constitutionality of the Prime Minister visiting Yasukuni Shrine. Often the first question Japanese Prime Ministers are asked by journalists after a visit is, "Are you here as a private person or as Prime Minister?" In addition, whether the Prime Minister has signed the visitors' book indicating the position of signatory as shijin (private person) or shushō (Prime Minister) is diligently reported. All Prime Ministers have so far stated that their visit was private. However, although some leave the signature section blank or sign it as shijin, others sign it as shushō.
Prime Minister Koizumi recently gave a somewhat cryptic answer, stating that he visited the shrine as Junichiro Koizumi, the Prime Minister of Japan. Some consider such statement as a move towards making visits somewhat official; others consider that it is pointing out that the whole issue of shijin vs shushō is somewhat meaningless. Some journals and news reports, such as one made by Kyodo News Agency on August 15, 2006, question whether in the case of Koizumi's visits, which are consistently claimed by Koizumi to be private, can be considered individual in nature when they are part of a campaign pledge, which in nature is political. Currently, most of the Japanese public and most jurists have agreed that there have been no constitutional violations yet.
The latest homage of PM Abe to Yasukuni shrine has added more fuel to the already fiery tense relations with Beijing and even from its close ally, the US through its new ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy who also stated disappointment with Abe’s government.
Mr. Abe has shown, however, that he is willing to take on big political risks to steer the country away from its postwar pacifism. He ignored blistering criticism from political opponents as well as the news media and steamrollered through Parliament a law that would tighten government control over state secrets. The law was presented by the government as a mechanism to aid in the sharing of military intelligence with allies, and create an American-style National Security Council.
Mr. Abe has also increased military spending for the first time in a decade, and loosened self-imposed restrictions on exporting weapons. A new defense plan calls for the acquisition of drones and amphibious assault vehicles to prepare for the prospect of a prolonged rivalry with China.
Experts say that this year, Mr. Abe could start taking concrete steps to reinterpret, and ultimately revise, Japan’s 1947 pacifist Constitution, something he has described as a life goal. Proposed changes could allow the country to officially maintain a standing army for the first time since the war, and take on a larger global security role.
“The past year has given Mr. Abe confidence to start flying his own colors,” said Koji Murata, president of Doshisha University in Kyoto. “He is signaling to his supporters that he is a politician who will fight for his convictions.” (Source: Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times)
This also explains why a Japanese news report claimed that China has drafted another air defense identification zone (ADIZ) this time over the South China Sea including of course the contested areas. And Beijing is quick in making its pronouncement through the official Xinhua news agency that the Chinese government shrugged off a Japanese news article about its plan to replicate an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) it set up on the East China Sea in the more contentious South China Sea accusing Japan of heightening regional tensions with “rumors.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said right-wing forces in Japan had repeatedly made such allegations with the intention of shifting international attention from the “plot” to change Japan’s pacifist constitution.
“We sternly warned these forces not to mislead public opinions with rumors and play up tensions for their own selfish benefit,” he said in a press release Saturday quoted by Xinhua.
If this saber rattling and word wars will continue between China and Japan, a regional conflict is not farfetched and it is quite obvious that with the alliances already in place, such conflict might lead to another world war.