Mr. Koizumi, prays in front of Yasukuni Shrine. He prays for the souls of the Japanese war dead. It doesn`t matter to him that the war dead he prays for are only Japanese. He doesn`t pray today for all of the
killed at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. No today he prays for the souls of 14 class A war criminals and the souls of Japanese. For him, and many Japanese, Japan was not an aggressor, far from it. Japan was a victim of European colonialism, and American pretentiousness. "America denied us oil," is the retort heard often from Japanese.
"We were forced into the war." It doesn`t occur to them, or often, they have never been taught (as the textbooks devote a tiny amount of space to World War 2), that Japan had invaded China in 1931. No one forced them nor wanted them to do that. The Chinese certainly didn`t. An unequivical official apology has never been given by Japan to her Asian neighbours. Certainly Japan has apologized, but it hasn`t been the German style, reveal all the terrible, terrible things we did-type apology. It has been a very vaguely worded, sterilized Gomen Nasai (Sorry).
The high school textbooks outline the horrors of the atomic bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Japan has been transformed by an organized government coverup to emerge as an unwitting victim of World War 2. The closest you will get from most Japanese that Japan might have done something wrong, is when they say, "Everyone goes crazy during war." Which of course can`t be denied. Some Japanese politicians regularly deny that Nanking occurred. If they do feel that it really did happen, the numbers are often miniscule compared to Western or Chinese estimates. There is virtually no mention of the sadistic experiments performed on the Chinese. Some of which would have made even a good SS man blush. When a socially responsible author writes a book about the war and gives more truthful details about what Japanese soldiers actually did, he is censured if he tries to get it adopted as a textbook. The truth comes out very slowly, if at all. Most Japanese have a distorted view of what happened: Japan was a victim, and America and the European powers--the aggressors. Japan liberated Asia, only to be defeated, and taken over by the Americans. Japan is still an American "lap dog" to many Japanese. The foreign policy often appears to be one of appeasing the men and women of Washington, D.C.
Hiding behind the tacit agreement that Japan must follow America in everything she does, no matter how misguided; Mr. Koizumi has seized his moment. George Bush has given Japan a reason to increase Japan`s already formidable armed forces, and go on foreign adventures. Mr. Koizumi went to great lengths to rewrite the Japanese peace constitution, so that Japanese soldiers can now attack abroad. We now see the JSDF or Japan`s Self-Defence Forces in Iraq. Self-Defence is a misnomer. Some of my Japanese friends have suggested renaming them the Japanese Army. I think their point is valid Mr. Koizumi. So a country that doesn`t know her own past, and no longer has a peaceful constitution is let lose on the world. Japan`s military by the way is consistently in the top 5 in military spending. See: http://www.cdi.org/news/mrp/global-graph.pdf Japan`s military is state of the art and now she will be pickingup valuable combat experience in Iraq.
While Koizumi and his government can be blamed, so can the Japanese public. The response to changing the constitution and the protests against sending the SDF to Iraq have been small. You can sign petitions in Tokyo, and people will quietly say they don`t understand why Koizumi is sending Japanese young people to potential death in Iraq. Supposedly we are living in a democracy in Japan. Yet the vast majority of Japanese I have spoken with are against sending Japanese troops to Iraq, nevertheless they have been sent. Koizumi and the LDP are not listening to the electorate. They are acting from the position that they know what`s best for Japan. They are not representing the views of the Japanese at large.
Often nations go on foreign adventures or start wars when the economy is bad. Japan is no exception. Mr. Koizumi is too young to have experienced the last cataclysm which was World War 2. He has no experience of being bombed. The elder Japanese, who on the whole are often more conservative, have direct experience of war, and they are very much against getting involved in more wars. They realize that Iraq is not a peace yet, and is very much still a war zone.
Nothing will change until the first Japanese young men and women come home in body bags. Then the horrible reality will come home. Crying Japanese mothers are sure to be shown on TV, unless the government steps in the censure that too. War is not pretty despite the jazzed up versions of it we can watch on CNN or Fox. Mr. Koizumi has tied his fate to George W. Bush, and like Bush he will be brought down. Mothers and fathers don`t like it when you get their children killed. Koizumi will never be forgiven for the blood on his hands.