In a recent Pew Poll regarding U.S.-Japan relations I was surprised to read that out of 1000 U.S. adults polled 73% said they had never heard of Prime Minister Abe who is Japans current and longest serving Prime Minister in nearly a decade. Considering the U.S. has around 50,000 military personnel stationed in Japan with over half of them stationed on the small island of Okinawa which represents only around .6% of Japans total landmass, and treaty obligations to defend Japan if it provokes a war with China over its refusal to even recognize there is a territorial dispute with China over the Diao Yu Islands I thought I should provide a brief introduction to Mr. Abe by mentioning some of his fairly recent statements and actions.
In 2013 Mr. Abe as Prime Minister made a visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and although that shrine doesn’t have a monument specifically dedicated to honoring the Japanese war criminals whose “souls” it has enshrined there it does have a monument honoring an Indian Judge who was one out of eleven judges in the war crimes tribunal that issued a not guilty verdict for the class A war criminals of Japan. While serving his first term as Prime Minister in 2007 during a visit to India Mr. Abe made sure to visit the elderly son of this deceased Judge to tell him what a hero his father was to right-wing Japanese historical revisionists.
In 2014 Prime Minster Abe dressed up in military attire and posed for photos in inside of a fighter jet prominently displaying the number 731 which just happens to be the number of Japans infamous Unit 731 which throughout WW2 carried out horrific experiments on civilians and prisoners of war. I highly doubt that Abe posed for such photos in order to offend but rather he like so many Japanese citizens born after the war is so ignorant of Japan’s dark history that he as well as the people who arranged that photo event were completely unaware of the significance, however it didn’t go unnoticed in China or South Korea.
That’s what happens when you deprive a population of a proper historical education, in a generation or two there’s hardly anyone around who knows much about the country’s dark history which leaves most people left wondering why Japan’s neighbors get so offended over things like Prime Ministers paying visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine is seen by many as a symbol of Japans militarist past where Japan married superstition with nationalism in a way that proved very effective in getting brainwashed youth to fight to the death for their god-like emperor based upon the promise that when they were martyred their souls would be enshrined at the shrine and be worshiped by the emperor himself.
With that said, if you didn’t before, hopefully you now know who Prime Minister Abe is.