Shinzo Abe Is Not Alone

Shinzo Abe Is Not Alone


By Edmond Y. Azadian

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was elected last year with a
strong mandate, has assumed the responsibility of reforming his
country’s sagging economy and in the process he has determined to
harken back to its imperialist history much to the chagrin of Japan’s
World War II victims, namely China and Korea.

This aggressive posture, with its militaristic overtones, worries
Washington’s policy planners, eager to maintain stability in the
region and to contain North Korea’s unpredictable behavior.

Abe’s revisionist policy has relevance and also a bearing on other
historic relations, especially German-Jewish and Turkish-Armenian
relations. Should the world remain silent, other revisionist
politicians may emulate Abe by victimizing once more history’s

President Eisenhower, before leaving office, had warned the US public
against the domination of the military-industrial complex. It is well
known that military buildup is a lucrative business that generates
wealth for a certain segment of society. Therefore, the Japanese prime
minister is taking up the recovery of his country’s economy where
Eisenhower had left off. In order to achieve this goal, he has to
create the right atmosphere and excuses to embark upon his
militaristic path. Tensions are already flaring between Tokyo and
Beijing over some islands in the East China Sea, claimed by both

To exacerbate the situation, Mr. Abe has taken some calculated and
provocative steps. First, he has plans to revise Japan’s constitution
drafted under US occupation after Japan’s unconditional surrender at
the end of World War II. General McArthur saw to it that Japan can
never rearm itself to wage a war of aggression. That is why Article 9
of its constitution renounces warfare and the threat or use of force
and that unlike other countries, it has a pacifist aim written into
the constitution. The prime minister is planning to “reinterpret” that
article to pave the way for Japan’s militarization, although the US
has 16 military bases in that country and has extended its nuclear
umbrella over it.

Since militarization needs an excuse, Abe has undertaken the most
audacious initiative to provoke China and South Korea, by visiting the
Yasukuni Shrine, adjacent to the revisionist war museum.

Japan’s barbaric actions during WWII in China and Korea are well
documented, especially its enslavement of Korean women as “comfort
women” in its military brothels and brutal assaults in China, the most
famous case known as the Rape of Nanking, where systematic rape and
murder was the order of the day in that Chinese city by the Japanese
Imperial Army.

Abe’s predecessors have made halfhearted apologies for these crimes,
which have satisfied neither China nor South Korea.

After the war, the Tokyo Tribunal, similar to the Nuremberg Trials,
took place between May 1946 and November 1948 and condemned 28
political and military leaders as Class A war criminals. Of those, 14
were executed and buried at Yasukuni Shrine, where Mr. Abe visited to
honor them. He defiantly justified his actions, maintaining that “the
14 Class A war criminals honored at Yasukuni Shrine are not war
criminals under Japanese law, but the country had to accept the
outcome of the Tokyo Tribunal to become an independent nation.”

The Chinese and South Korean governments are outraged and they have
expressed their indignation in no uncertain terms. The US government
has been trying to warn Mr. Abe against a repeat performance. Western
media also pointed to it as a self-inflicted act as the Economist of
London wrote, “Morally, it is as if Angela Merkel were to pay her
respects at a monument that, among other things, honors the Third
Reich. Politically, it is self-defeating….China and South Korea, that
suffered under Japanese imperialism, are understandably horrified.
Step-by-step, they fear, Japan is shedding the restraints that bound
it after the war without having ever faced up to its crimes.”

Mr. Abe can defy his country’s old victims and challenge world public
opinion safely sheltered under the umbrella of the world’s most
powerful nation: the US.

Another nation — under the farcical title of trusted ally — is Turkey,
which continues its denialist policy, unrepentant. Talaat Pasha, the
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and the architect of the Armenian
Genocide, confided to the Turkish feminist Halide Edip: “I have the
conviction that as long as a nation does its best for its own
interests, and succeeds, the world admires it and thinks it moral. I
am ready to die for what I have done and I know I shall die for it.”

What he had done was boastfully described in Ambassador Morgenthau’s
Story. Talaat is quoted as saying, “I have done more toward solving
the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid II accomplished
in 30 years.”

The precursor of Nuremberg Trials, the Istanbul Trials of 1919, under
Ottoman Sultan Mahmoud VI, accused 130 suspects of committing war
crimes and the “massacre and destruction of Armenians.” On July 5,
19191, the court released its verdict: Talaat, Enver, Jemal and Dr.
Nazim were condemned to death in abstentia. The criminals had fled the
country and the administration of justice was left to a group of young

Talaat had found refuge in Germany and he was planning to return to
Ankara, where, according to his confession to a British intelligence
officer, Aubrey Herbert, “the Turkish national movement was forming.”
The reference is to Mustafa Kemal’s Milli movement, which eventually
built the present-day Turkish Republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman

Talaat’s life was cut short when he was assassinated by Soghomon
Tehlirian in Berlin in 1921. He had pinned his hopes on Kemal’s
nationalist movement, which turned out to be the extension of the
criminal Ittihadist policy. Many rank-and-file members of that
government who had Armenian blood on their hands joined the Kemalist
government, as it has been fully documented by Turkish historian Taner

The Republic of Turkey was cooperating with Hitler during World War II
by providing raw materials to the German war machine. That is how it
was able to repatriate Talaat’s remains from Berlin to Istanbul in
1943. The remains were reburied in the Sisli district of Istanbul. A
monument was also erected in his memory on Hurriet Tepe (Freedom Hill)
for the Turkish people to honor that war criminal. It is believed that
as of 2012, Mehmet Talaat Pasha has had many prominent streets named
after him in the modern state of Turkey.

Far from apologizing for the crime of genocide, Turkish leaders have
continued to threaten Armenia and the Armenians. Still fresh in our
memories is the threat by then Turkish President Turgut Ozal, at the
outset of Armenia’s independence, who asked rhetorically whether 1915
had not taught a lesson to Armenians and if they are itching for
Turkey to drop a few bombs over Yerevan.

As we can see, Shinzo Abe is not alone. He has also cohorts in Turkey.

Yet many politicians play politics with our own Genocide monument and
the measure of their friendship with Armenia is revealed by their
treatment of Tsitsernakabert in Yerevan. Pope John Paul II politicized
his trip to Armenia by avoiding the use of the “g” word. Hillary
Clinton made a mockery of her official trip to Armenia, when she
announced that her visit to the Genocide museum was a private one and
that she had left her political mantle of secretary of state at the US
embassy, where she was staying. In her calculation, she signaled to
Turkey that the US government’s representative was not honoring the
Armenian martyrs. On the other hand, Armenians felt very honored that
she was at the monument, whether in a private or official capacity.

Even the heads of our friendly countries, fearful of antagonizing
Turkey, have shunned the monument. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad cut
short his visit to Armenia to skip his planned visit to the monument,
under the pretext of tending to an urgent matter in his country.
President Bashar Al-Assad, with the same precautions, did not include
a visit to the monument when he came to Armenia.

The majority of the Armenians in the Middle East sympathize with the
Palestinian cause and they are thrilled when the head of the
Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas visits the manger in Bethlehem on
Armenian Christmas. But when he visited Baku the last time, he
shamelessly announced that as Palestinians, whose land is occupied,
“we understand Azerbaijan’s predicament” as some of its territory
“remains under occupation.”

Major and minor powers play politics with symbols. If we expect
support from the world to expose our case and to oblige them to
respect our martyrs, we need to deplore the abominable sacrilege of
politicians like Shinzo Abe who want to rewrite history and to absolve
the sins of history’s murderers.

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