For the Chinese version, 安倍晋三 - 极右历史窜改主义者是世界和平的最大敌人
For the Korean version, 아베 신조와 극우 역사수정주의자는 세계의 적이다
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- As soon as Abe was elected in 1993, he became a member of the LDP’s “History and Deliberation Committee.” This committee held about twenty meetings with right-wing scholars, and as a result, published a book called “Overview of the Greater East Asia War,” on August 15th, 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the Asia-Pacific War. The book argues: 1) “The Greater East Asia War” (the Asia-Pacific War) was not an aggressive war, but a war for self-existence and self-defense, and for liberation of Asia from Western powers; 2) Events such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women,” are fabrications. Japan did not commit war crimes and was not a perpetrator; 3) Since “biased” school textbooks contain false information about Japan’s wartime activities, a “textbook struggle” (an attack on education) is necessary. Abe still holds these positions.
- In December 1994, a right-wing group called “Diet Members’ League for the 50th Anniversary of the End of War” was formed to counter a parliamentary move to pass a resolution in August 1995, critically reflecting on Japan’s aggressive war. Abe was selected as deputy executive director. This group organized the “Steering Committee of Japanese People’s Movement for the 50th Anniversary of the End of War” in conjunction with far-rightist religious groups (mostly Shinto). It led twenty-six prefectural assemblies and ninety municipal assemblies across the nation to pass resolutions opposing the critical resolution and arguing that Japan did not invade its Asian neighbors.
- The same right-wing members of LDP in June 1996 formed a new group to attack history textbooks, called “Bright Japan - League of Diet Members,” and Abe was appointed deputy executive director. In February 1997, he formed a group called “Group of Young Diet Members for Consideration of Japan’s Future and History Education,” and became its executive director (“Young” was dropped from the group’s name in 2004).
- Abe has always been on the frontline of such groups and has worked hard to scour descriptions of Nanjing and the sex slaves, who he argues were “prostitutes,” from textbooks. He pressured not only education ministry officials responsible for textbook screening, but also presidents of textbook publishers and textbook authors, to remove references to such crimes, claiming that they were “distorted.”
- While Abe was Chief Cabinet Secretary, he complained about the content of an NHK (Japan’s national public broadcaster) program on the sex slaves issue before it was broadcast, demanding that the head of the Broadcasting Bureau make the program “fair and objective,” or resign. As a result, significant changes were made to the program before it was screened on January 30, 2001. One of the changes was deletion of the part where the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal, held in Tokyo in December 2000, deemed the rapes and the military sex slavery system by the Japanese military as “crimes against humanity,” and held Japan and Emperor Hirohito responsible for them.
- He and his “Group of Young Diet Members for Consideration of Japan’s Future and History Education,” called Kono to a meeting and argued that Kono had recognized the “coerciveness” of the act without convincing evidence, as the Korean side demanded so, but Kono stuck to his guns. At the House of Representatives Budget Committee on May 27, 1997, Abe further said there was no need to specifically reference the issue in textbooks unless the women were coerced, and no document had been discovered to verify this.
- On June 14, 2004, Abe, then Secretary General of LDP, told a symposium organized by the “Group of Diet Members for Consideration of Japan’s Future and History Education,” that “there was no such historical fact as the military comfort women,” totally ignoring the Kono Statement. Abe went on to say that he would actively work with MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) to “improve textbooks,” meaning the removal of all descriptions of “military ‘comfort women.’”
- At the House of Representatives’ plenary session on October 4, 2006, Abe said: “The government’s basic position is that it follows the Kono Statement.” Perhaps due to the subsequent criticism from the right-wing forces that supported Abe, on March 5, 2007, he again stated that the government would “continue to follow the Kono Statement,” but added that “there was no evidence that verifies coercion, narrowly-defined coercion such as authorities breaking into houses to take away women like kidnappers would,” suggesting that the “coercion” part of Kono Statement needed to be modified.
- On January 31, 2007, when a Democrat Congressman Mike Honda introduced a resolution calling for the Japanese government to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery,” Prime Minister Abe fought back. He said he had “no plan to apologize” even if the resolution was adopted, and argued that there was “no evidence that supports ‘narrowly-defined coercion,’ or the allegation that Japanese soldiers kidnapped women and coerced them.” This was despite the fact that the Kono Statement had expressed “sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.” Abe’s statement, which suggested the women had voluntarily provided sex to Japanese soldiers, was criticized by U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.
- Abe could no longer ignore such criticisms, particularly those coming from the US and other Western countries. The BBC reported on April 27, 2007 that Abe, in a meeting with President Bush at Camp David, said, “I feel deeply sorry that they [the victimized women] were forced to be placed in such extremely painful situations.” Newsweek interviewed Abe prior to his departure to the US, and reported on April 27, 2007 that Abe said “We feel responsible for having forced these women to go through that hardship and pain as comfort women under the circumstances at the time.” He apparently admitted “coercion” in these reports, revealing his double-tongued strategy.
- On February 20, 2012, Kawamura Takashi, Mayor of Nagoya City stirred controversy when he expressed his doubts over the occurrence of the “so-called Nanjing Incident” in a meeting with leaders of the Nanjing City Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. In response, right-wing forces in Japan held an urgent meeting titled “Supporting the ‘Kawamura Statement’ - Condemning the myth of ‘Nanjing Massacre,’” to which Abe sent a message of support. The August 3 and September 24 versions of the Sankei Shimbun, virtually the official newspaper of Japan’s right, ran an advertisement supporting Nagoya Mayor Kawamura’s Nanjing Statement. Abe acted as one of the proposers.
- In an interview with the Sankei on August 28, 2012, Abe laid out his agenda. If the LDP returned to power, it would be necessary to review the Kono Statement, he said and to issue a new government “understanding” of it. His subjects for review included “The Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Miyazawa Kiichi on History Textbooks,” known as the “Miyazawa Statement” or the “Neighboring Countries Clause,” in which Miyazawa stated that “from the perspective of building friendship and goodwill with neighboring countries,” Japan will “pay due attention” to criticisms by the neighboring countries such as China and Korea on some descriptions in Japanese textbooks, and “make corrections at the Government’s responsibility.” He would also review the “Murayama Statement” (“Statement by Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi ‘On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the War’s End”), issued on August 15, 1995.
- Suga Yoshihide, Chief Cabinet Secretary of the new Abe Cabinet said in a press conference of December 27, 2012 that “there have been many studies by experts, and it is desirable to continue academic examination” about the Kono Statement. It is possible that Abe will again change his position on the issue of “coercion” in military sex slavery, which he admitted during his previous term by “following” the Kono Statement. Regarding the Murayama Statement, Suga in the above press conference said the government would “follow the position of the past cabinets." Only three days later, on December 30, Abe, in an exclusive interview with the Sankei Shimbun, reportedly said, "The Murayama Statement was one issued by the Japan Socialist Party's Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi. I would like to release a future-oriented statement that is suitable for the twenty-first century." As discussed above, Abe originally attacked the Murayama Statement when it was issued in 1995. When he became prime minister in 2006, he changed his position to “follow” the statement. Then after he resigned in 2007, he publicly stated his intention to review” it, and within a week of his re-appointment as prime minister, he and his Cabinet sent a mixed message to the world, to "follow" and "revise" it.
- On April 10, 2012, a joint meeting of LDP’s “Education and Science Committee” and the “Group of Diet Members for Consideration of Japan’s future and History Education” was held, in which MEXT officials discussed the latest screening of high school textbooks. Abe condemned the MEXT officials, saying that some textbooks said the “comfort women” were “mobilized” and “rounded up.” Abe interrogated the officials on how and when such “changes” were made, even though he had denied coercion in the “so-called ‘comfort women’” cases in the Diet when he was prime minister. According to Abe, textbooks with descriptions of the “comfort women” were “far from common sense.” LDP Diet members at the meeting blamed MEXT for leaving such references in high school textbooks even though junior high school textbooks had been cleansed.
- On December 26, 2012, Abe announced his nineteen new Cabinet members. Nine, including Abe, are members of the “Group of Diet Members for Consideration of Japan’s Future and History Education,” which has consistently worked to remove the description of the military sex slavery and the Nanjing Massacre from textbooks. Thirteen, also including Abe, are members of the “Discussion Group of the Nippon Kaigi Diet Members,” affiliated with the “Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference),” the biggest right-wing organization in Japan. These numbers show the far-right character of the new Abe administration.
- One of the Cabinet members, education minister Shimomura Hakubun requires attention. He is secretary general of the “Discussion Group of Nippon Kaigi Diet Members.” He is head of a new department within the LDP called “Headquarters of Education Renaissance,” which prepared the party’s “Pledges for Education Policy” for the December 2012 general election. The pledges advocate: 1) cancellation of “biased education” based on the “masochistic view of history;” 2) abolition of the “Neighboring Countries Clause” in the textbook screening process, as expressed in the Miyazawa Statement; 3) reinforcement of patriotic education. Shimomura argues that recognizing the history of Japan’s aggressive war and critically reflecting on it would represent a “masochistic view of history.” The world will pay close attention to how Japanese history textbooks may be distorted under Shimomura’s leadership.