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2015年10月16日 (金)

(社説)外務省HP 外交が内向きすぎる

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 5
EDITORIAL: Abe government's 'inward-looking' diplomacy serves no purpose
(社説)外務省HP 外交が内向きすぎる

The Foreign Ministry on Sept. 18 updated the “History Issues Q&A” section on its Japanese website. The timing suggests that the ministry intentionally held off the update to coincide with the passage of new national security legislation that allows Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

Gone from the updated Q&A is any mention of Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression” against its Asian neighbors. And the streamlined content only provides URL links to the (Tomiichi) Murayama statement and the (Junichiro) Koizumi statement that acknowledged Japan’s colonialism and aggression.

On Aug. 14, the day Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued his statement for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Q&A section was abruptly deleted from the ministry’s website. After questions were raised in the Diet about the deletion, the website ran a notice to the effect that the content was being revised to reflect the Abe statement.

But why did the revision take more than a month? It is only natural to assume that the ministry decided to delay the revision to avoid any negative impact on Diet deliberations on the contentious security legislation.

“Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war,” Abe’s 70th anniversary statement said, even though Abe never made it clear if he himself felt such remorse. And he went on, “Such a position articulated by the previous Cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.”

But the fact that the Foreign Ministry immediately deleted the symbolic expression “colonial rule and aggression” from its website would only suggest that the Abe administration’s perception of history is not what it was made to appear in the prime minister’s 70th anniversary statement.

Something similar occurred on the Foreign Ministry website last year.

At that time, the ministry abruptly deleted a document calling for contributions to the Asian Women’s Fund that was set up to represent Japan’s national effort to compensate Asia’s wartime “comfort women.”

The Japanese government always used to bring up the Asian Women’s Fund as proof of its sincerity in dealing with the comfort women issue. By deleting the document, the Foreign Ministry effectively undermined the government’s position, instead of playing it up.

The national security legislation, which Abe insists is “necessary for protecting Japanese peoples’ lives and the peaceful life of Japanese citizens,” was promulgated on Sept. 30. But the fears of this law’s opponents have not gone away at all. They are deeply apprehensive, not only of the law itself, but also of the likelihood of a substantive change in Japan’s postwar pacifism because the prime minister did not use the “I” in expressing the nation’s deep remorse for and heartfelt apology for its past history of aggression.

Defensive capabilities alone cannot protect the nation’s security. Constant diplomatic efforts to ease tensions in the international community, of which Japan is a member, are indispensable. So long as Japanese diplomacy remains thoroughly inward-looking, it will serve no purpose.

Before Abe, the Japanese government always reassured the Japanese people and neighboring nations by trying to face the past squarely and admitting mistakes made in the past.

Humility about history is what is obviously lacking in the Abe administration that overstresses recent changes in Japan’s security environment.


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