World / Asia-Pacific

Japan's defense policy overturn 'brings Asia closer to war': expert

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-28 09:47

TOKYO - The overturn on Japan's "purely defensive" defense posture pushed for by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a historical revisionist who is keen to beef up Japan's military role, is "emphatically the wrong choice: it enhances the chances of war," an expert on international political economy has said.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann, an emeritus professor at the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland's Lausanne, pointed out in an article carried by the Japan Times Monday that Japan had a history of military expeditions, recalling the nation, historically for seven decades until 1945, "engaged in constant military expeditions and wars against its Asian neighbors" and was finally defeated by China and the United States.

The professor said recent security related bills that were rammed through the country's all-powerful lower house in the bicameral parliament by the Abe-led ruling coalition happened "in conjunction with the increasingly strident nationalism and revisionism of the Japanese political leadership" and the trend is worrying the region.

The expert illustrated that constant controversial visits by Abe and his cabinet ministers to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class-A criminals of World War II, are a "cruel provocation" toward Japan's closest neighbors brutally trampled by then Japanese Imperial Army in wartime.

"This is as if, in Germany, members of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party visited and paid homage to the tombs of the Waffen SS," Lehmann commented, noting that Germany "has atoned for its atrocities and has reconciled peacefully with its neighbors, Japan has not."

The expert, co-author of "Japan's Open Future: An Agenda for Global Citizenship," said over half of Abe's cabinet, including Abe himself, along with some 150 lawmakers from Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), are members of a powerful ultra- nationalist group of Nippon Kaigi, adding that the group "praises the invasions, massacres and rapes of its East Asian neighbors as wars of liberation."

"The most heinous aspect of contemporary Japanese revisionism is the denial of the plight of the Korean (and other) sex slaves -- known euphemistically in Japanese as 'comfort women' -- who were forced into prostitution by the Imperial Japanese Army during the war," Lehmann said in the article, stating that "Japanese revisionists deny their existence or, worse, claim they were just common whores."

On Monday, the upper house of the country's Diet started to debate the controversial security legislation which aims at paving the "legal ground" for Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to exercise constitution-banned rights to collective self-defense. Under the legislation, the SDF could be projected worldwide and engage in armed conflicts even if Japan is not attacked.

Lehmann said the world would relax over Japan's increased military role "if Diet members ceased paying visits to Yasukuni, if Nippon Kaigi were dissolved, if Abe were to go to Seoul and bow before the memorial erected in honor of the 'comfort women'."

"However, given the unrelenting chauvinism that pervades Japan' s political establishment, it is no wonder that in East Asia there is serious concern about the resurgence of Japanese militarism -- and hence the prospect of war in Asia," said Lehmann.

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