World / Asia-Pacific

Abe's sugarcoating rhetoric disguises militaristic ambition

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-31 20:57

BEIJING - Although right-leaning Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe managed to deliver a seemingly "politically correct" keynote speech at the annual Asia Security Summit in Singapore on Friday, his awkward rhetoric betrayed his puzzled mind on regional issues.

Overloaded with abundant pleasant words and made-up concepts, such as "proactive contribution to peace" and "proactive pacifism, " as well as new slogans enthusiastically promoted by Abe, the speech was in fact intended to sugarcoat the right-leaning Japan's militaristic agenda.

Having robustly pushed through an easing of Japan's arms export control in April, and now determined to release its so-called collective self-defense right and legitimize overseas military operations, Abe has gone a long way in eroding Japan's pacifist constitution, which was put in place after a brutal war started by militaristic Japan to prevent the country from repeating the same path.

The address to defense officials and experts from Asia-Pacific region at the Shangri-La Dialogue needs to be dealt with caution, for its ambiguous rhetoric leaves vast room for sophistry and manipulation.

Under the disguise of being "proactive," right-wing forces in Japan could easily push the limit, adopting provocative approaches and stirring up military conflicts in the name of protecting "peace" for their own strategic gain.

The track record of Japan's powerful right-wing has damaged the country's credit when it comes to maintaining peace and security in the region, where many Asia-Pacific countries suffered from Japan's wartime atrocities in the first half of the 20th century.

If Abe and his government were truly remorseful as he declared during the opening speech at Shangri-La Dialogue, they would at least have the decency to remove the 14 Class-A convicted war criminals and more than a thousand others charged with war crimes from the notorious Yasukuni Shrine before "praying for peace" in it.

The carefully worded address, which apparently tried to avoid calling China by name, ironically revealed a strong awareness of China's prevalent presence and influence and portrayed China as an imaginary enemy to the peace of the whole region.

Depicting China as the "big bully" in the East and South China Sea to justify Abe's push to revise Japan's pacifist constitution seems to be a clever calculation as it has huge economic implications due to a potential surging demand for military personnel and equipment.

However, most Japanese do not agree with their government's grand plan for militaristic revival. Many people who have a painful memory of their and others' wartime sufferings have voiced their anxiety and opposition to Abe's agenda.

A survey published by Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun in April showed that 63 percent of the Japanese polled oppose lifting the ban on exercising collective self-defense right and 50 percent are against any revision of the pacifist constitution. Only 29 percent said Japan should lift the ban on collective self-defense.

The growing objection reflects Japanese people's deep distrust of the right-wing forces in the country.

Though filled with melodious words such as "peace, freedom and rule of law," Abe's address was hardly convincing. Japan still faces tough challenges to rein in its dangerous and extreme right-wing forces and keep them from taking Japan on the old path of militarism.

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