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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What Abe Should Have Said In Pearl Harbor

Above, the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Michael Penn, a writer for the Shingetsu News Agency doesn't seem too impressed about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent speech in Pearl Harbor.

He wrote:
SNA (Tokyo) — The Abe administration and, more generally, the Japanese rightwing, couldn’t have asked for more from the outgoing Obama administration at Pearl Harbor. The US government apparently requested nothing at all of Tokyo when inviting Prime Minister Abe to speak beside President Obama at the December 27 event, and Abe used the opportunity for maximum political effect. 
Abe appears to have had two major audiences in mind—the Japanese public back home and the incoming Trump administration. For both audiences Abe wanted to demonstrate that the US-Japan Alliance is both strong and friendly, and that his government had done much to tighten those fraternal links. 
Because the US government required nothing, Prime Minister Abe was allowed to glide over the issue of Pacific War responsibility, not only by not apologizing, but not even admitting that Japan had been the aggressor at Pearl Harbor (in his earlier career Abe had repeatedly questioned the conventional historical view). 
I don't think another apology from Japan is necessary, but I agree with Penn that Abe should have, at the very least, admitted that they were the aggressor nation for the attack on Pearl Harbor and, also, the cause of the Pacific war. The Obama Administration can be faulted for not insisting this. This was an historic event as Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor. Such an admission (or acknowledgement) would have given his visit much more meaning. It was definitely a wasted opportunity.

Words have meaning, and the lack of words also have meaning.

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