Obama and Abe have shown their ignorance of history

Updated: 2014-05-12 07:13

By Ho Hon-Kuen (HK Edition)

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Last Thursday, I watched the television news of US President Barack Obama visiting Japan. After eating sushi with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama made a surprising announcement. He said the Diaoyu Islands fell under Japan's administration. The US president said the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan also applied to these islands. Moreover, Obama announced that Japan would be justified in carrying out acts of "self defense".

These comments twist historical facts and show a total disregard for justice. Such righteous attitudes have not been expressed recently by other American presidents. How could a former Nobel peace prize recipient make such a reckless speech?

Obama noted that he was not yet born when the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed. He added that it was every US president's duty to respect this treaty.

What must be noted is that before Obama was born, Japan's militarism and brutal invasion of China and other neighboring countries was a terrible chapter in Asian history. It included massacres, use of germ warfare, the exploitation of comfort women, rape, theft and other crimes. It brought indescribable suffering to a great number of people. It is because of these historical facts that post-war Japan is required to have a peaceful constitution. It still cannot have significant military forces - other than for self-defense purposes. And yet Obama openly welcomed Japan's expansion of military forces!

Since Japan's surrender in 1945 until now - a period of nearly seven decades - what evidence is there that Japan is under any threat of invasion? Does Japan really need to execute its right to self-defense? On the contrary, there are signs suggesting a resurgence of Japanese militarism.

The evidence for this has been stronger in recent years. Led by Abe, more cabinet members have been visiting the Yasukuni Shrine and honoring class A war criminals. They have also denied historical facts about Japan's invasions of China. They have flagrantly distorted history textbooks. They have also told schools to support Japan's claims to the Diaoyus. It is clear that the consequences of Obama welcoming Japan's right to self-defense will encourage a resurgence of Japanese militarism. This will bring endless problems and could even result in future conflict.

It angers me that the media reported so little of Obama's insolent speech in Japan. On Sunday, a few friends and I organized a protest about it. We marched to the Consulate General of the United States in Hong Kong to express our outrage. We did not represent any political party and were only a small group. But I was very angry and concerned about American media reports humiliating China, reporting Abe's disrespectful speeches about China and distortions of Sino-Japanese history.

Strangely enough, different parties in Hong Kong are completely indifferent to this important issue.

When our protest in Hong Kong was over, I texted many friends, saying, "I just went to protest at Consulate General of the United States in Hong Kong, with only a dozen people, six media - five print and one electronic. In Hong Kong where international vision and patriotism are lacking, it was surprising to receive some support. A few police officers, a lot of tourists and Filipino maids standing across the streets stopped and stared at us. I was quite impressed by that! Some of our slogans included, "America has no righteousness, Japan knows no shame"; "Obama slaps Nobel Peace Prize in the face"; "America has power but no justice"; "America and Japan gang up and castrate history"; "America and Japan invade Chinese sovereignty - poison China."

I am going to end this column by repeating this slogan: "America has no righteousness, Japan knows no shame"!

The author is vice-chairman of the Education Convergence.

(HK Edition 05/12/2014 page9)