Western reporters roll out more twisted stories about unapologetic and nationalistic Japan
With Shinzo Abe’s LDP set for a possible victory in this weekend’s election, Western reporters have been struggling to come up with interesting explanations for what is happening. Public discontent about the lack of impressive changes brought about by the DPJ makes for a rather boring story, so some reporters have fallen back on a familiar meme: the rise of right-wing nationalism and militarism. As usual, they gloss over or ignore Japan’s numerous official apologies, depicting Japan as a nation of history deniers. Some articles even imply that China’s aggressive expansionism and anti-Japanese nationalism is because of Japan’s alleged failure to acknowledge its past.
Here are a few examples of this kind of article.
Time Magazine’s Battleland blog has an interview with a scholar who wrote book about war guilt. Entitled “Why Japan Is Still Not Sorry Enough,” the interview is structured in a manner than tells readers that Japan has not really apologized for the war. (Although the scholar does admit that Chinese and Korean nationalism are partly to blame for the situation.)
Mark Firn of the Telegraph has written an article about the expected LDP victory, claiming that Abe’s return to power would bring about a triumph of “core demands” of Japan’s “far-Right.” Shinzo Abe’s views about historical issues are emphasized, supposedly because he will be able to overturn Japanese mainstream public opinion and insert right-wing ideology into the education system. Other papers have picked up the story, running it with headlines such as “Japan’s Right glorifies wartime past as it heads toward power.” The article doesn’t do a very good job of explaining why this time will be so different from the last time Abe was Prime Minister. As many of you probably remember, then Prime Minister Abe was forced to moderate his right-leaning views about history and endorse Japan’s longstanding policy of historical apology. The “rise” of a couple small right-wing fringe parties will not produce a wave of nationalism that will turn the whole country towards glorifying militarism.
Martin Fackler of the New York Times recently penned a piece of about former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s new political party (“A Fringe Politician Moves to Japan’s National Stage“). While the media in Japan factually reported that Ishihara’s party is losing steam and on its way to obscurity, Fackler took his article into dreamland. Fackler writes that Ishihara “has emerged as a contender for prime minister.” It’s a statement that is so ridiculous that it could produce laughter from anyone familiar with the situation in Japan. Unfortunately, the New York Times’ readers don’t know a lot about Japan, and many of them will actually take it seriously.
In reporting about the 75th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, Al Jazeera claims that Japan has “never apologized” for what happened. The Japanese government’s official policy, which candidly acknowledges what happened, is interpreted as historical denial because it contains no numerical estimate of the death toll. And so, we are led to believe, it makes sense for mobs of Chinese rioters to smash and burn Japanese businesses…