Abe’s diplomacyJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe skirted around the issue of the so-called comfort women, or sex slaves of Japanese troops during World War II, while showing great concern for the abducted Japanese in North Korea during his visit to the United States last week.
We are greatly disappointed with the stand he has taken on this historical issue. He conveniently sees only what suits him and does not take the log out of his own eye before going after the splinter in another’s eye.
As the Supreme Court of Justice in Japan admitted during his visit to the U.S., it is a historical fact that Japanese troops forced Korean and other Asian women to be sex slaves.
Nevertheless, during his meetings with President George W. Bush and congressional leaders, the Japanese prime minister never admitted that the women were forced.
Instead he demonstrated his political skills by dancing around the issue. He made new entries in the political lexicon by talking about a “sense of apology” or a “sympathetic mind.” His intention was clearly to deflect angry public opinion over his denial that the women were coerced by the military and to try and mute the effect of the resolution on the matter in the U.S. House of Representatives.
It was his strong intention, though, to use his trip to get action on the abductees. That was the real goal.
Finally, Abe was able to get President Bush to acknowledge his apologies on comfort women and to agree to share the effort to solve the Japanese abductees issue.
He was also able to get the National Security Council at the White House to link the issue of abductees with the possibility of deleting North Korea from the list of terrorist states.
Abe must be satisfied with the results. He likely sees his American diplomacy as a success, but that just demonstrates his myopic view of the world.
As one Japanese newspaper said, it is not the American president who is owed an apology, but the comfort women themselves.
Moreover, dismissing North Korea from the terrorist states list is a separate issue from the abduction of Japanese because it is associated with the implementation of the February 13 agreement between North Korea and the United States.
It is worrisome because linking the two issues could produce another stumbling block on resolving the nuclear issue.