Shame on Prime Minister AbeJapan’s far-right politicians have lost their minds. Outspoken nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto have unabashedly brought up the ghosts of Japan’s wartime past and irked neighbors that still bear bitter memories of its military aggression. Their misbehavior resembles that of Nazi Germans who were swept up by militarist fervor under Adolf Hitler.
During an inspection at an Air Force base in Miyagi Prefecture, Abe took pictures giving the thumbs-up on a training jet emblazoned with the number 731, which reminds many Asians of the horrendous military unit 731 that did biological and chemical experiments on war prisoners from various parts of Asia.
The public posture can hardly be considered coincidental or befitting a state executive. Many suspect it had been meticulously choreographed to enhance his popularity among conservatives. Washington-based newsletter Nelson Report bluntly criticized Abe’s stunt as obnoxious and likened it to a German leader wearing a Nazi uniform for fun.
The 731 unit of the Imperial Japanese Army at Harbin in northern China was notorious for performing lethal human experiments on over 10,000 prisoners that even included pregnant women from Korea, China and Mongolia. Abe could not have been oblivious to the sensitivity of the number when he stepped into the plane and posed happily in it. His action only underscores a lack of remorse and respect for the people of neighboring countries that suffered under Japan’s rule.
The right-wing mayor of Osaka was more blatantly provocative. He said there wasn’t clear evidence that the Japanese military had coerced women into sexual service for Japanese soldiers. He said the so-called “comfort women” system was necessary to maintain discipline in the military at the time. During a visit to a U.S. base in Okinawa, Hashimoto told the U.S. commander there “to make better use of the sex industry to help control the sexual energy of tough guys.” These are unbelievable words from a politician who is a popular candidate for prime minister.
Abe is enjoying a popularity rating of 70 percent. Hashimoto outspokenly supports Abe’s agenda to revise the postwar pacifist constitution. We are seriously concerned about the right-leaning path of Japanese politicians.