|Prime Minister Abe visits Yasukuni Shrine|
Nobody’s ever surprised when they hear just how low a politician can go. Just this week there was a media circus over a duck hunter from a place where “Cajun redneck culture and Ozark redneck culture intersect,” a reformed drug addict who now represents American family values and prays to Jesus, and who should therefore, we are told, be forgiven for an occasional off the cuff remark about how the blacks back in “pre-entitlement” days were oh so happy all day just singin’ their little hearts out, and because he declared that being gay "morphs" into bestiality and that they "invent ways of doing evil."
And the politician part? Well, that would be Sarah Palin talking about how terrible it is that we are trying to shut down free speech and not let the good Christian people of America express their religion anymore. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, the guy I’m talking about, in telling the world gays are all about bestiality and inventing evil are “just expressing what most Christians think,” you see.
But Sarah Palin, despite the narrow miss when we might have put her within a heartbeat of the presidency, is history. She’s now a national clown. Dumber than her shoes. No need to take her seriously.
That’s not the case with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. He’s gone and done once again what the prime ministers of Japan sometimes do when they decide it’s time to bend down and smack their lips against the backsides of the rightwing geezers still pining away for days of military glory. When they decide it is in their political interest to pay an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where the war criminals who planned the brutality in China like the Nanking Massacre are buried. And are honored to this day. Imagine how that feels to a Chinese. Or a Korean. Or a Filipino, when that happens.
(I blogged about Yasukuni a short time ago, here.)
So much time has passed. We are a whole new generation of people, we Japanese and we French and we Indonesians. We run the International Space Station together, we Russians and we Americans and we Japanese. All together in marvelous harmony and cooperation. Time to let bygones be bygones.
Until an asshole like Shinzo Abe comes along.
I remember an article in Der Spiegel at the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. This was a great day for the German people, they said. Why? Because they were freed from the mindset that launched the invasion of most of Germany’s neighbors and constructed ovens for the genocidal killing of Jews and others. This was the first day of a new life for Germany. Germany was finally on a path to becoming the nation is has become today, with a capital city in Berlin people are flocking to for art and entertainment, with a powerful economy that is keeping the EU churning (I’m not endorsing their politics necessarily). Germany is a country to be proud of today. So thank you, liberators of not only the concentration camps, but of Germany itself.
And what do we do with our historical association with the Third Reich? We vow to lead the world in peaceful cooperation and the rule of law. We certainly don’t celebrate the wars and aggression of yesteryear. We don’t forget, we don’t diminish, whitewash or trivialize. And we look forward.
Abe, are you a complete idiot? Do you not have the slightest respect for the victims of the Yasukuni war criminals?
Abe's defenders argue that there are only fourteen war criminals at Yasukuni, including the Big Guy, Tojo, and that he's honoring all the soldiers who fell in service to their country. And that he's only going there to pray for peace. Yeah, right. Then how come he picks the very day to visit when the Chinese are celebrating the anniversary of Mao Tse Tung's 120th anniversary? Japanese are masters of detail and every political nuance is carefully calculated. It would seem this is an act of bravado on Abe's part. See? You can't tell me what to do, you Chinese fool! I'm in charge here.
And the Chinese response?
"Honoring the shrine is, in its essence, embellishing and falsely beautifying Japan's military invasion and colonization."
And the Korean response?
"South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that he cannot help but deplore and express anger and urged Japan to stop "beautifying" its invasion."
No modern day Japanese child needs to have any feelings of guilt for the bombing of Chinese cities during the 1930s and 40s. They weren’t alive at the time. But they should get from their schoolbooks and from their parents and grandparents an appreciation for what Japan has become since 1945, how it has built itself up from despair and destruction, how it now builds laboratories in space where their astronauts share common goals with fellow astronauts from Russia and America. They should be allowed to look forward, in other words. With optimism and pride. Japan, like Germany, is a country to be proud of. Why would you focus on that other Japan that is no more? Why would you bring it back to life?
I take this all very personally. I have family in Germany. Years of close association. A deep love of German music and art, and when things get tough it’s German fries and Bratwürste that lift my spirits. I also have a valid green card for Japan. If I go back, they have to take me in. It was my home for over two decades and I will always be proud to have been associated with that marvelously engaging place. Pisses me off all the time, of course. But in the way somebody you love pisses you off when they act like a turd.
I’m pissed at the moment at Japan for allowing this lowlife politician to drag Japan back to the time when it was a scourge as a nation. Come on, guys, let’s hear your voices. Tell Abe you deserve better. You really do, you know. Don’t let him get away with this. Throw the bum out and get in his place somebody to represent you who has the courage to stand up to the bullies among you. You deserve to be able to travel around the world and not have people want to spit at you.
Abe represents the wrong Japan, just as the skinheads represent the wrong Germany and the Ku Klux Klan represents the wrong America.
Is it really that hard to understand? Do we really need to explain these things?