World War II began near an unremarkable town called Wanping, China in July 1937 and ended with soul-destroying fury that ballooned as giant mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
With two atomic bombs, the United States stuffed the genie of Japanese militarism into the American bottle. Under its watch, post-war Japan has maintained an elegant deception as a beacon of pacifism.
But the benign façade is cracking under the pressure of China’s rise and rise. The resurgence has sparked an existential crisis for Japan, its sense of drift even more acute as its erstwhile victim steams ahead.
Japan must find fresh bearings. The bad news is that whenever Japan casts around for new directions, it leaves a bloody trail of terror and destruction.
Throughout history, from the Korean Imjin （壬辰） wars to the Sino-Japanese wars of the modern era, Japan has displayed an innate disposition for raising the clenched fist against its neighbors.
It should be no surprise to John Kerry that he was rebuffed in South Korea for attempting to delink the bloody events of past from today’s security issues. Historic context is the framework for contemporary intra-Asian relations.
The geisha fan-boys claim that Japan has become a fully paid-up member of liberal democracy, and history does not repeat itself. But it rhymes, as some say.
In fact, names such as Abe, Aso and Hashimoto have a similar ring to yesterday’s warmongers; in Japan, the apple really does not fall far from the tree. Today’s leaders are scions of that power-hungry elite that planned and led the brutal rampage across Asia.
Out of political expediency, American occupying forces reprieved thousands of war criminals and butcher scientists to fortify the defeated enemy as a Cold War bulwark.
In Tokyo’s corridors of power, it has always been 1941 all over; when it is business as usual, what is there to repent or even reflect when some things apparently never happened – such as the Nanjing Massacre – or are exaggerated, like the comfort women issue?
With each poker-faced denial, the peaceful Zen-like mask is rolled back to reveal the martial bushido spirit. At heart, Japan is really a Potemkin village operated by bone-headed politicians from a corrupt party founded by war criminals, yakuza gangsters and foreign funding.
Shinzo Abe would be its village idiot, except for the method under the madness of his coven of crazies.
“The denial of crimes on the scale of the Rape of Nanking has only one meaning—it is the ideological preparation for new wars and new atrocities,’’ opines an article bylined John Symonds on wsws.org
“ It is an argument that until now has been confined to extreme right-wing fringe groups.
Nearly seven decades after the end of World II, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is rapidly re-militarising Japan, freeing its armed forces from any legal or constitutional constraints and revising history to whitewash the past crimes and atrocities of Japanese imperialism.’’
Provocations over Diaoyutai, visits to Yasukuni, textbook revisions, comfort women, Nanjing massacre, etc, serve one purpose: they help to harden home sentiment against the inevitable protests across the seas.
Washington has also becoming increasingly overt in support of Japanese re-armament, and Western thinktanks and media are falling in line with the move. The China-bashing claims can be described as `making the foot fit the shoe’.
Japan’s return to arms, says Financial Times, has resulted from the loud and angry noises China is making. What’s missing, though, is that Chinese objections were first triggered by Japanese baiting in `purchasing’ and `nationalizing’ Diaoyutai/Senkaku islands.
Analysts Ian Bremmer and David Gordon forward a tenuous assertion in a joint article (Project Syndicate) about China’s reforms; their failure, it seems, could make simmering tensions, especially with Japan, boil over into real war. A safe inference is that Japan must re-arm for its own safety.
Actually, the biggest danger of stalled reform would be to China itself. A state weakened by factional struggle and social unrest is ripe for foreign, especially Japanese, meddling.
China has been there before. The leitmotif of modern Chinese history is nei luan, wai huan (chaos within, aggression from without).
China’s firepower cannot reach parity – unless it wants to bankrupt itself – with the US-Japan and Nato alliances.
Ultimately, Shinzo Abe’s determination to tweak Japan’s peace constitution and facilitate military adventure with the US and allies, seems to smell of an incipient backdoor attempt at an Asian Nato, through false flags, bribery and coercion of countries over the long term.
Japan’s long peaceful charade will truly end when it completely throws off its benign mask to partner the US in leading a struggle for regional space and influence against China.