This March 28, 2020 file photo shows then -Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe answering questions at a press conference at his office in Tokyo. AFP PHOTO
WHILE reading media reports about tributes to the slain former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and the ways of Japan’s peace -loving, I thought of the famous saying that “journalism is the first rough draft of history. ” It is useful to note this because most chatter is just a rough draft and no longer the judgment of history.
The media, especially the Western media, is in a hurry to raise Mr. Abe on near mythic status, and to praise Japan as an example of peace and stability. There are almost no footnotes in other stories that struggle to break encomiums; such as Japan’s history of political violence, and Abe’s record as an ultranationalist.
The arrest in describing journalism as a rough draft of history has been widely attributed to the late former Washington Post president and publisher Philip Graham.
Katharine Graham, Graham’s widow and former publisher of the Washington Post, quotes from her statements to Newsweek overseas correspondent in London in 1963, in her 1997 autobiography Personal History.
“So let’s now get tired of about our inevitably impossible task of giving each week a first rough draft of history that will never be completed about a world we don’t really understand.
“The inevitable haste of journalism inevitably means a certain degree of shallowness.”
The Western media is only now beginning to correct excessive encomiums and arrive at a more measurable judgment.
Undercurrent of violence
In the UK’s Spectator on July 9, 2022, Francis Pike, the historian and writer, wrote an article entitled “Shinzo Abe and the long history of Japanese political violence.” He wrote:
“Shinzo Abe was the dominant politician of his time. Forced to resign as prime minister after only a year in 2007 due to ulcerative colitis, a congenital condition, Abe returned to win landslide elections for the Liberal Democratic Party in 2012 , 2014 and 2017. During a time when many Japanese prime ministers have served for more than a year, Abe has been prime minister for eight years and 267 days.Abe would almost certainly have served longer if not for the return of his illness in 2020.
“No wonder then at the genuine worldwide shock. ‘Japan has lost a great prime minister,’ said President Macron of France. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, which country has been strongly supported by Japan in its continues tussle with China for sovereignty, recorded that ‘Taiwan also lost an important and close friend.’
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that July 9 will be a national day of mourning. Modi’s reaction is not surprising. In a short first term as prime minister in 2007, Abe brought India to a four -way security alliance, including the US and Australia ….
“However, Shinzo Abe’s eulogization has a major line of error. Geopolitical necessity requires Western powers to hide the fact that Abe is an ultranationalist holocaust denier – the Chinese holocaust that is.
“Abe has long been a member of Nippon Kaigi, an organization with 38,000 members, including 40 current and former ministers, dedicated to restoring Japan’s wartime imperial constitution.
“Coincidentally, Abe’s maternal grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was the mastermind behind the economic enslavement of millions of Chinese for the militarization of Manchuria’s industry. Later, Kishi signed the declaration of war against the United States. in 1941. After the war, Kishi, an A-list war criminal, escaped persecution and became the founder of the LDP, serving as prime minister from 1957 to 1960.
“Not surprisingly, in 2013 Abe caused a storm of protest across Asia when he visited the Yasukuni Shrine where convicted war criminals of Japan were buried. Even at the end of his tenure, Abe was unchanged in his attitudes to the atrocities of Japan during the war.
Narratives of mythologizing
“For convenience or perhaps for laziness, the West tends to ignore the mythologization narratives produced by the Japanese establishment in the post -war period.
“Japan’s post-war mythologization also applies to the widespread idea that the country is a lacuna of peace and stability. For example, the BBC report on the death of Shinzo Abe noted that ‘This is a country not accustomed to dealing. in political violence. ‘
“It’s bunkum. Murder, sneak attack, ambush, is completely ingrained in Japan’s political and military tradition; so was the sneak attack on Russia’s Port Arthur in 1904 and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Violence has always been one of the ways of finding political solutions.The most famous example in Japanese culture is the story of 47 Ronin (unattached samurai) .After a powerful court official, Kira Yoshinaka, forced their boss who committed seppuku (ritual suicide by self-disembowelment), the 47 Ronin disguised and carried out bloody revenge.They also practiced seppuku.Japanese culture considers these assassins as heroes.
“Japan’s violent political culture brought with it a modernization of Japan during and after the Meiji Restoration. The samurai were resistant to changes that weakened their traditional role in society. The killing of these regressive samurai became prevalent during this period.
“The high watermark of the assassinations came in the 1930s as the Japanese armed forces were filled with a toxic mixture of a pseudo-Bushido code and national socialist philosophy that probably preceded the rise of fascism in Germany. In November 1930, Prime Minister Hamaguchi Osachi, blamed for the London Naval Treaty, a battleship limitation agreement deemed a national disgrace, was shot by a member of the Aikokushu (Society of Patriots) and died of his wounds nine months later.
“Over the next six years, the assassination of three more former or current prime ministers as young naval and army officers, often supported by their seniors, effectively ended the democratic government in Japan in two phases of blood flow aimed at political and economic figures.
“Throughout the 20th Century, ritual suicide was used as a violent political act. In 1970 the great Japanese novelist and political activist, Yukio Mishima and followers, who denounced Emperor Hirohito for renouncing his divinity, were make seppuku in the offices of a commandant of the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF).
“If we look at the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe therefore, we should not be deceived into thinking that Japanese society is the island of calm that some Japanophiles think of. It is based on seemingly tightly controlled and socially compliant , where the crime rate is a part of the West, there is an undercurrent of extreme violence with a long historical origin. ”
Japan is back on the world stage
The Financial Times in an editorial on July 9, 2022, praised Abe’s role in restoring Japan’s place on the world stage. Write this:
“As Japan’s longest -serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe brought extraordinary political stability and optimism to the country; his shocking assassination evoked memories of the political violence rampant at the start of World War II. Japan is unlikely to go back to those dark days, when assassination targets were used to bring democratic politicians on the heels.But whatever the motive of the lone gunman, the hunt resonated around the world.
“Abe’s second term as prime minister, from 2012 to 2020, made him one of the most prominent statesmen in the world; a success in itself because before his first tenure in 2006-2007, Japan had nine prime ministers. for 16 years.That recognition, along with his compelling advancement in his country, returned Japan to the global stage after years of economic and diplomatic stagnation.Abe remained a political heavyweight after his resignation: he was campaigning before Sunday’s election in Japan’s senate when he was shot on Friday at the age of 67.
“A political prince – his grandfather, who was accused of being a war criminal, was released without pay, and then became prime minister – Abe lacks common touch. But his brand of polarizing but charismatic showmanship has propelled to him to be, at the age of 52, the youngest prime minister of the country since the second world war, and the first born after the war.
“Abe’s policies, not only his record-breaking premiership, solidified his legacy, but his long life in politics allowed him to center power and gave him time to adopt those necessary comprehensive reform.His name will always be associated with ‘Abenomics’-his brand of economic policy activist whose successors, Yoshihide Suga and now Fumio Kishida, are still widely returning.
“Abe’s destruction of the mold was not always welcome. Postwar pacifist constitution in 2015. Although deeply controversial at the time, it allowed Japan to maintain military forces for ‘collective security’ with allies.
“Assassinating him will undermine Sunday’s elections, which will almost certainly solidify Kishida’s position.