politics

Former U.S. POWs, Koreans seek conditions for Abe's address to Congress

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By David Brunnstrom

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“But trying to pre-condition, or deny, the prime minister of Japan an opportunity to speak to a joint session of Congress, I don’t think is the right way to achieve those ends.”

I have to reluctantly agree. Everyone mentioned has their own issues but Abe should be free to speak and speak about whatever he chooses.

3 ( +14 / -11 )

Abe should be free to speak

This. I dislike Abe's revisionism but which is the point to force him to say whatever some people want? This makes sense only if you see him like a puppet, not like a politician, and it's not even close to what we call freedom of speech. Plus, we should consider it's not like those people have the absolute truth.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

PM Abe has done more to bring Japan'sdeense position in line with US demands than any PM in Japanese history. These survior groups are going to have to accept the fact that current US military arrangements supercede their feelings of 70 years ago. As for Korean Americans, they can go back to Souh Korea if they can't support the US position. And I don't see any words of remorse from Koreans over the brutality they inflicted on US POWS in the Japanese camps in the Philippines. Nujerous Koreans were charged as B and C War Criminals because of this.

-5 ( +25 / -30 )

PM Abe has done more to bring Japan'sdeense position in line with US demands than any PM in Japanese history.

This is true, even tough some people didn't notice it yet.

-5 ( +11 / -16 )

A Japanese foreign ministry spokeswoman... said Abe’s Cabinet “upholds the positions outlined by the previous administrations in their entirety,”

Not true. Abe has said that he wants to "revisit" those positions on numerous occasions, even going as far as to call Japan a martyr at least once. He has done more than any other PM in recent memory to rub salt in the wounds of people who suffered at the IJA's hands, to harm bilateral relations between Japan and many other countries, and to erode much goodwill that Japan had built up previous to his administration.

He also supports the notion of high-level GOJ politicians visiting Yasukuni Shrine, which overtly whitewashes Japan's past atrocities, glorifies Japan's incursions, and portrays the nation as a liberator. His adamantly pro-Yasukuni position is certainly one area that ruffles the feathers of the POWs.

12 ( +22 / -10 )

It's a fair request but I personally believe that it should be turned down. It is well known by regulars here that I do not like Abe's manner of leadership, or lack of leadership skills, however paulinusa I agree he should be allowed to give a speech on whatever topic(s) he chooses.

Interesting that no Japanese PM has ever been given this honor before and while it isnt official yet it sure seems like a huge pat on the back for Abe if it happens.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Interesting that no Japanese PM has ever been given this honor before and while it isnt official yet it sure seems like a huge pat on the back for Abe if it happens.

This shows only like Abe's agenda is shared by Washington, as I said many times, and like many experts know. He is very pro-US.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Abe Shinzo should be able to say what he wants. Then and only then can people evaluate if he is going to go down a path of historical revisionism or a path of reconciliation. Let us remember that there are a lot Americans who feel strongly about revisionism, too, but to pre-censor the leader of an American ally is wrong.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

As a valuable ally in a dangerous part of the world, Abe should be welcomed without any preconditions. This isn't any great honor addressing Congress anyways. This was the same podium that was most recently graced by war criminal Netanyahu, after all. My sense is most Americans do not agree with these former POWs and Koreans.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

They could just not invite him to speak.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

A group of Korean Americans placed a full-page advertisement in The Hill

And yet just recently, the Korean former comfort women for the U.S. military filed a suit against the Korean government but of course, these people are silent. Don't want to pi$$ off their current landlord.

1 ( +15 / -14 )

Let us remember that there are a lot Americans who feel strongly about revisionism

Japanese revisionism was never something like "The US attacked us". It's a problem related to China and S.Korea. And while the matter with S.Korea can be troublesome for the US, since S.Korea is also US ally, it's not seen like a real problem when it's towards China. In other words, in the American agenda it's bettter a revisionist Japan towards China than a Japan not revisionist and closer to China. For this reason the US welcomes somebody like Abe, overall, while they dislike Hatoyama's types.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Let us remember that there are a lot Americans who feel strongly about revisionism, too

Highly unlikely. For better or worse WW2 is remembered as a past glory and there is plenty of evidence to support that theory. For most Americans, Kim Kardasian is more important than Japan's history.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

while they dislike Hatoyama's types.*

types like Hatoyama, I meant.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Abe's speechwriter must be busy now.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I see no problem with this. They are realistic questions asked by people who suffered under IJ. If there were no former US POWs, I think the issues would just go largely ignored, but Congress would be ignoring its veterans if they did not at least hear them out, and given that Abe is against the Tokyo tribunals to boot...

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

And why do they have to dictate what to say and what not to say?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Let Abe say what he wants indeed, but not in my Congress. Congress already has disgraced itself enough with that racist swine Netanyahu.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Abe thinks Japan to is an unordinary or a strange country under the peace constitution. He wants to change Japan to an ordinary country - when Japan is hit or threatened, Japan can rattle the saber and hit back. He may be appealing Japan can become a true allied country of America in that way.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Koreans make a lot of noise as usual. Just ignore them since they are not represent American public, period. Yes, they can protest, but it is an uncharacteristic diplomacy and unconstitutional from U.S. point of view.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

this series of news regarding historical issues is extremely complicated, for it is a matter of what people believe and what they don't. Strong beliefs and emotions often are included, which makes it way more difficult to resolve the problem. Who that can perceive this matter from the objective point of view should analyze ongoing issues and give their opinions. Then I guess PM Abe would be in the situation where he has no choice but admit whatever he has to.

Whether or not Abe should be invited, I think, shouldn't depend on his belief. I mean, if Abe were to say something which is not upheld by the majority, he will get what he deserve.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Wow. The American former POW's are speaking up too. The must've seen Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" and re-lived those terrible memories. No wonder the film was never released in Japan-

9 ( +12 / -3 )

And has the US ever apologized for the immense humanitarian loss and devastation from the bombings of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, and the like? The past is past; let's focus on the present aggressors instead.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

this series of news regarding historical issues is extremely complicated, for it is a matter of what people believe and what they don't.

I would think that the former POWs, seeing as they experienced things first hand, would be basing their objections on more than just beliefs.

I agree with other posters who've said that if there are major unresolved issues with a foreign dignitary, just don't invite them to speak in the first place. You can't tell a foreign leader what they can and can't say.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

These survior groups are going to have to accept the fact that current US military arrangements supercede their feelings of 70 years ago. As for Korean Americans, they can go back to Souh Korea if they can't support the US position. And I don't see any words of remorse from Koreans over the brutality they inflicted on US POWS in the Japanese camps in the Philippines. Nujerous Koreans were charged as B and C War Criminals because of this.

Ossan -- pure nonsense. The brave U.S. servicemen who fought the Japanese during WWII, and were taken prisoners ( and I had an Uncle who died in the Pacific and another who was a Japanese POW) do not have to "accept" anything, because no "current military arrangements" give Japan a free pass for their history of atrocities and do not "supercede" these people's rightful concerns that Abe will use our Congress as a soap box for his "well we're nice people now, so those things don't count" crap. My god, man, that is the exact same spot where FDR said December 7th, 1941 was a "Day that will live in infamy", and you want to let Abe stand up there and potentially "revisit" or "put in a forward looking context" the in-human things Japan did? Also, you're telling Korean-Americans "they can go back to South Korea if they can't support the US position" is pure ignorence. First off, in case you missed it, Korea is a strong allie of the U.S. in Asia as well. Second, when did it become "US position" to favor Japan over Korea? Third, Americans don't tell fellow citizens to "get out" if they disagree with something". That is the strength of our country.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

This one is a bit out of left field. In the past, the elite in Washington has been rather effective in muting criticism of Japan's past actions. I suppose the issue here is how far can Japan go in ignoring these requests without appearing to be interfering in American domestic politics. The other issue is how far can these groups go (not the Korean-Americans but rather the veterans) in attracting mainstream traction for this argument. My advise to Japan would be to go very carefully on this, maybe Abe needs to give up on the idea. The reason being it could well blow up in their face. I suppose the worst case scenario would be such dirty little secrets overshadowing the who visit and being tied into various other inconvenient truths, like Japan recently trying to alter history textbooks in the US.

Finally, this is what happens when you deny historical fact. What certain people in Japan fail to realize is that burying history is a chump's game. Japan might have been successful in lobotomizing domestic debate of such issues in the mainstream press, however, for every eager beaver in Japan's Ministry of Education who is intent on whitewashing the past, there are at least as many people in other countries (China, South Korea and even the United States) who are just as focused in keeping Japan's shocking wartime conduct in the public eye. Of course, ideally Japan would have come to its senses years ago, made a heartfelt apology, and then stuck to it (also incorporating the inconvenient truth in its educational syllabus). However, the doyens of the right (Abe, Ishihara, etc.), have never had that much foresight. As such, the chickens continue to come home to roost, and some of them might end up roasting Abe and his cabal of revisionist loons.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Finally, this is what happens when you deny historical fact. What certain people in Japan fail to realize is that burying history is a chump's game. Japan might have been successful in lobotomizing domestic debate of such issues in the mainstream press, however, for every eager beaver in Japan's Ministry of Education who is intent on whitewashing the past, there are at least as many people in other countries (China, South Korea and even the United States) who are just as focused in keeping Japan's shocking wartime conduct in the public eye. Of course, ideally Japan would have come to its senses years ago, made a heartfelt apology, and then stuck to it (also incorporating the inconvenient truth in its educational syllabus). However, the doyens of the right (Abe, Ishihara, etc.), have never had that much foresight. As such, the chickens continue to come home to roost, and some of them might end up roasting Abe and his cabal of revisionist loons

Hongo -- brilliant.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Cripes, let's get representatives from ALL sides on this issue together, join hands, sing "Kum ba yah", have a big hug fest, and bury the hatchets and then go on living.

Right too simple, people would get in a fuss about the person standing next to them and having to hold their hands!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

If only all countries would acknowledge that their win or loss released their country from the venom of fascism and the inhuman goals of a criminal regime... I can think of so many countries...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cripes, let's get representatives from ALL sides on this issue together, join hands, sing "Kum ba yah", have a big hug fest, and bury the hatchets and then go on living.

Yubaru -- great idea. Except the next day Japan would say "but we really didn't mean it".

0 ( +10 / -10 )

to some the wars of the fathers are never over and the debt should be paid over and over again by the sons and daughters to the bitter end.

such a shame- so sad to stay so bitter when the people became so peaceful

what would go far would be a meeting with the veteran's group, perhaps pave the way of veterans from both sides to meet in the states. perhaps that would allow some of the memories to fade.

As for the comfort women issue- Abe is trying to stand on history- but it was the beginning of the war - when the Prostitutes volunteered to move out with the troops- some of this continued as time went by - but most faded to people being forced into it.

would they have been better off? in a war environment- probably not- but it should have been their choice. - so put out a clear statement - no speech but a statement, if reparations have truly been paid fine- but think - if someone was forced in to this job- was the amount of reparation enough to remove those memories and allow them a peaceful rest when they die?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's perfectly clear what's going to happen: the United States is a free country, and as such there will never be any conditions placed on what a guest leader of a foreign country invited to the US House can say. For instance, as much as Obama didn't want Netanyahu to come and speak out against the Iran nuclear deal, Bibi came to Congress and did exactly that, so I don't see any problems with Abe coming to celebrate 70 years of peaceful alliance between Japan and the US.

On the other hand, I think these types of groups or any other concerned individuals are also free to request whatever they want, or to at least make their concerns better known to the world. People should criticize what they see as historical revisionism wherever they find it (in Japan or elsewhere.) It won't change anything in terms of Abe's freedom to say what he wants, but it might actually end up having some effect on what he actually chooses to say!

At any rate, while I don't wish to place "conditions" on Abe's speech, I'm on the side of those who say a stronger remorse from the Japanese government for Japan's wartime atrocities would do more, not less, good. This year (the 70th commemoration) is the perfect chance to really come out strongly on the subject, and then put it away forever (without seeking to revise the issue yet again in the future.)

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

have to reluctantly agree. Everyone mentioned has their own issues but Abe should be free to speak and speak about whatever he chooses.

Nope, Abe may be accorded an - in my opinion - unwarranted honour. It's all very well having a spokesperson say he will respect previous statements: His own statements have run contrary to the Japanese government's. Abe himself opposed the Murayama statement of 1995. So it's only fair that part of any address he makes before congress should make amends for ww2. He can regard it as a warm up for his August 15th speech

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Thomson Reuters: An organization for former U.S. prisoners of the Japanese and a Korean-American forum say Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should only be invited to address the U.S. Congress during an expected visit to Washington if he acknowledges Japan’s World War Two past.

Invite him first, see what he says, and THEN complain if he steps out of line.

If you get up in arms over even the chance of him misstepping, how do you expect to see how he acts behind closed doors, when you're not there to watch him?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

an address to both houses of Congress, an honor never before afforded to a Japanese prime minister.

All the while leaders of major countries as well as those from middle-powers such as Mexico, Argentina, South Korea, Pakistan have.done so on multiple occasions

Source: http://history.house.gov/Institution/Foreign-Leaders/Joint-Sessions/

Goes to show how sincerely close post-war US-Japanese ties are

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Bgood: " Just ignore them since they are not represent American public, period."

But you think changing history, denying atrocities -- not other countries -- AMERICAN tribunals, and playing the victim card and part and parcel in American society? Wow! Not saying much about AMerican ideals, my friend.

Hongo: Bang on! The saddest part is that if the US actually allows free speech and the practice of it, and these people have their way and can ask these conditions of Abe, apologists will come out, as some are on here, and say things like, "Why are they attacking the Japanese people? We did nothing wrong!" and "they don't understand Japanese culture! This is an attack on us!", and "In Taiwan everyone likes us... why are they asking us such things!?" or some other such garbage and they'll ACTUALLY believe it because they've been fed BS for so long by people like Abe. I mean, look at some of the posts! You have South Koreans, former POWs, and others wanting these conditions but posters blinded by hate and white-washed history are saying, "Koreans just complain and don't represent the US at all," etc. It's pathetic!

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

The problem is, there are too many different versions of the history floating around Japanese parliament. If there was one 'true' version that was not denounced then there would be no need for this kind of revisionism. I know that, the majority of Japanese accept the historical facts, but there is the minority that keeps downplaying and denying the events of Japan's colonial rule of Asia in the first half of last century. These old twits are the ones causing all the problems. There is also the point of Japanese history textbooks being revised to paint Japan in bright colors instead of the dark colors it should be. All they have to do is accept the truth and the world can move on, but denying, downplaying and lying about the events of Japan's imperial rule just adds fuel to the fire that still burns in many of the survivors and their descendants. Man up Japan!

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

“We want Congress to only extend the invitation to Prime Minister Abe to speak at the podium of Roosevelt and Churchill if they are assured that he will acknowledge that Japan’s defeat released the country from the venom of fascism and the inhuman goals of a criminal regime,”

Heck, Silvio Berlusconi was given that opportunity to speak at the podium of Roosevelt and Churchill in 2006, I think this rhetoric lost all significance from that point.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@Donkusai, you're right. My comments were really beside the point to this article. Thanks for reminding me of that!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

These veterans make a sound case, but it didn't matter to more substantial US-Japanese relations such as trade, so how would it stifle more trivial activities such as Abe addressing a joint session of Congress?

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

How about if abe speaks to congress then the head of the POW group gets to address the Diet!!!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

This thing is about to come to a head. Irresistible force vs. immovable object?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Freedom of speech, an absolute. I sympathise, but would not in any way support this motion.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think Japan should reconsider the relationship with USA. No matter how painfully loyal Japan is to USA, they never appreciate it. They started look like China or South Korea to Japanese.

-15 ( +1 / -16 )

Me too. The relationship is too lopsided. We allowed / encouraged you to start fresh from the ashes, give you security, taught you capitalism, enhanced your economics, etc. What's in it for us besides our presence in E Asia? The cold war is over.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, which represents surviving U.S. prisoners of the Japanese, said an address to a joint session of Congress would be “a unique opportunity to acknowledge Japan’s historical responsibilities.”

I didnt know there was such an organization still in exisistance. With all the recent efforts by nuts in the US and Japan trying to rewrite WW2 events, seems they leave this group alone. Its a disgrace to even insult vets and POWs, victims of the war by telling half truths etc.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@itsmeagain

No, but these things are taught to and discussed by American students, and not in a vacuum.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I think Japan should reconsider the relationship with USA. No matter how painfully loyal Japan is to USA, they never appreciate it. They started look like China or South Korea to Japanese.

Yeah you should forget the US and try out China and South Korea. Oop, my bad, I forgot, you burned that bridge as well

Seems you got it all backwards; no matter how long time goes on, you cant forget or admit and keep at it trying to convince us all that facism was good.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

War is hell and everyone did despicable things in WWII and the war is over between the US and Japan. Japan has paid its deed for more than 70 years since and now it houses 50,000 US troops and it's the US's best ally in the Pacific. We shouldn't forget the past but we shouldn't wield it as a weapon, either.

Let Abe say his peace, unfiltered and without pressure. How will you know how he truly feels if you if you're looming behind him?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@harvey pekar

When the Royals from England visit, do they have to apologize for burning down Washington DC in 1812?

It's interesting that you downplay Abe's attempt at historical revisionism of WW2 by citing another war which has been the subject of complete historical revisionism by American nationalists. Every American child can tell you that America was the victim rather than the aggressor in the war of 1812 but this is not accepted by serious historians. It's a perfect example of why we have to be vigilant about nationalists trying to sleepwalk us into a distorted version of history, whether in Japan or America.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

" These survior groups are going to have to accept the fact that current US military arrangements supercede their feelings of 70 years ago."

That's a pretty arrogant thing to say to former POW,s ( and quite rich coming from someone who supports a bunch of right wingers suing Asahi over a story that " hurt their pride and feelings " over the comfort women issue.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

So Netanyahu, who personally advocates taking land away from Palestinians, can be invited to address the Republican-controlled Congress, but Abe, who had nothing to do with World War II, cannot?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Strangerland

I love your posts to the point of giving you a thumbs-up without even reading what you've written. But:

1) He isn't vengeful.

2 ) He doesn't live in the sky.

3) He ain't a fairy.

That apart, you're dead right : )

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Keep demanding apology, and increasing hatred among Japanese against Americans.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

@tinawatanabe If you were at all informed about the world beyond Japan, you would know that the US doesn't seriously demand an apology, it is only the mess that you have created in your relationship with SK and China that is bleeding over. On that note, I encourage you to consider whether you would be safe with China as your new BFF.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Give it a rest.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

No, this is not a free speech issue, but let the man speak. There numerous American policians who are veterans, and they would not take a slap in the face from Funzo lightly. Japan has already done a terrible job at mending fences with China and Korea, Abe would be a fool to try playing that game with one of Japan‘s only friends in the world.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Whatever you do, don 't mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@scipantheistMAR. 21, 2015 - 08:39AM JST Let us remember that there are a lot Americans who feel strongly about revisionism, too

Highly unlikely. For better or worse WW2 is remembered as a past glory and there is plenty of evidence to support that theory. For most Americans, Kim Kardasian is more important than Japan's history.

And enjoying to watch video of Madonna flipped back on stage in England.

Congree men? They are trying to figure if Harry Reid will have his one eye taken out or just becoming one eyed Dem. Big shot.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

scipan: the US doesn't seriously demand an apology

A few days ago, Maryland state unanimously voted condemnation against Japan over war. McGraw Hill included comfort women in their new shool textbook recently, Mrs Clinton criticized Japan, demanded comfort women called sex slave, Obama criticized Japan over comfort women at South Korea about a year ago. Criticized Yasukuni before that. Several states erected comfort women statues, Some state changed history textbook about the name of Sea of Japan to some Korean name, and on and on.

And you are saying?

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

That's not demanding an apology, it's simply ensuring that Japan doesn't whitewash history. It's preserving the status quo.

3 ( +7 / -3 )

Korean American Civic Empowerment, would rather Abe San remained in Tokyo. State Senator Susan Lee Joint Resolution 3 honouring comfort women in Asia and Pacific Islands during World War II, primary purpose is to embarrass Japans elected government. Korean American Civic Empowerment would deny the people of Japan a voice through their elected government even before Abe San has set foot on US soil. State Senator Susan Lee is more than comfortable to righteously tar and feather a whole nation that wholehearted fully endorses Kono 93 and Murayama 95 statements of remorse and regret.

Afford Abe San the opportunity to at least be heard. The people of Japan will judge accordingly at the ballot box democratically, a right State Senator Susan Lee unequivocal support of the government of China denies it own people.

We Must Stop PM Abe from addressing a joint session of U.S. Congress

http://us.kace.org/2015/we-must-stop-pm-abe-from-addressing-a-joint-session-of-u-s-congress-feb262015/

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Peaceful Japan is sandwich between two nuclear powers who are allies at the same time so shopping around for a big brother is natural thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These people who want to change Abe's speech should elect one to represent them and propose to meet both house and Senate to address their issues. Make sure formulate their speech well so that lawmakers will be able to question Iafter he/she spoke. If boring, they record on their i-oad and ignore it. It is already scheduled for Abe. .

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

but Abe, who had nothing to do with World War II, cannot?

Not exactly, Abe is the grandson of Nobusuke Kishii, a convicted (and acquitted) war criminal. Abe has made numerous statements that run contrary to the established history of ww2. So in that light it's natural to be wary of his upcoming address to congress.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Congress shouldn't dictate what ANY foreign leaders should or shouldn't address. If they haven't learned anything from Netanyahu's speech blowing up in their face, they're complete morons.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

In the case of Mr Abe, yes they should

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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