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Japanese Right 'Hijacking' Obama's Asia Pivot (Xinhua, China)


How damaging are the repeated visits of Japanese leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead - including men convicted of war crimes during World War II? For China's state-run Xinhua, columnist Zhu Dongyang provides an indication of the tightrope President Obama will have to walk during his week-long visit to America's Asian allies, warning that if he fails to criticize Tokyo over such visits, it could derail Washington's larger strategy in the region.


By Zhu Dongyang


April 22, 2014


People's Republic of China - Xinhua - Original Article (English)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Has the Japanese leader allowed domestic politics to intrude on Tokyo's global responsibilities?


CCTV VIDEO, CHINA [STATE-RUN]: Su Xiaohui, of the China Institute of International Studies discusses Abe's decision not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine before Obama's arrival, Apr. 21. 00:04:02RealVideo

BEIJING: With outcries from Japan's neighbors barely fading over visits to a controversial war shrine by two cabinet ministers, 146 Japanese lawmakers turned up en masse to the Tokyo shrine on Tuesday, in a new act of provocation that will further worsen the island's already tense relations with its neighbors.


In addition, the trip of nearly a fifth of Japan's lawmakers to the Yasukuni Shrine puts U.S. President Barack Obama in an awkward position, as it comes trickily on the eve of his three-day state visit to Japan.


Any visit to the shrine by politicians, which honors 14 Class-A WWII war criminals along with the rest of Japan's war dead, angers Tokyo's neighbors, which suffered untold atrocities at the hands of imperial Japan.


The United States itself fell victim to Japan's WWII aggression.


After Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's shrine visit last December, Washington expressed "disappointment," and called on Tokyo to engage in constructive dialogue with its neighbors over history and territorial disputes.

Posted By Worldmeets.US


Obama may find his "pivot to Asia" strategy hijacked by Japan's right-wing politicians, who care more about domestic politics than the country's overall national interest in maintaining good relations with its neighbors and the United States.


Although having decided not to pay an in-person tribute to the shrine this time, Abe dedicated a "masakaki" tree, in an obvious attempt to play both sides by avoiding further diplomatic embarrassment of Obama while at the same time, appeasing domestic right-leaning forces.


Given this collective spring season worship at the Shrine just a day before his arrival, Obama may find himself on a tightrope.


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Silence over the shrine visit will deprive Obama of the moral high ground, given that he will later on travel to South Korea and the Philippines - two countries that suffered greatly from Japan's WWII aggression. Yet by siding with Japan, which behaves like a spoiled child of the United States, Obama will anger China, which will run counter to the U.S. president's commitment to forging a "new type of major-power relations" with Beijing.


The U.S. president should keep a careful eye trained in his Asian ally, which has long attempted to whitewash its history of aggression and boost its self-defense capabilities, which poses a threat not only to its Asian neighbors, but to the peace of the world at large. Neither is a militarist Japan in the interests of the United States.


A Japan which is reckless about dealing with other regional powers, including China and South Korea, will eventually weigh negatively on Washington's "rebalance in Asia."



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Posted By Worldmeets.US Apr. 22, 2014 4:49pm