Abe's hawkish policies 'real risk' to Japan's long-term national interests
Updated: 2015-06-16 20:24
TOKYO -- A former British ambassador to Japan expressed his concerns in an article that leaders of the Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) could threaten Japan's long- term national interests through policies that could lead to a more autocratic and nationalist regime, according to a local newspaper Tuesday.
Hugh Cortazzi, who served as the British ambassador in Tokyo from 1980 to 1984, said in the essay carried on the Japan Times, an independent English-language newspaper, that the Abe administration is asserting more pressure on media to support his policy.
"NHK, which should be independent, has become a government mouthpiece. The kisha club (press club) system, which is used to feed government information to the media, has been used to promote self-censorship by the implied threat of being excluded from access. A vendetta against the Asahi Shimbun seems to have been at least partly successful," Cortazzi said.
He criticized that the notorious Special Secrecy Law which took effect in 2013 was passed "without adequate parliamentary scrutiny and contains provisions that could be misused to limit freedom of speech."
"Anyone familiar with the spy mania of prewar Japan must be concerned about the dangers from this piece of legislation," he added.
The former ambassador slammed the prime minister's historical revisionism as "a major cause for concern," saying the facts of the Nanjing Massacre and "comfort women" issue, as well as slave labors who died building the Burma-Siam railway have not been forgotten by victim countries, "even if Japanese school textbooks do not mention these facts."
"As the 70th anniversary of the end of the war approaches, any attempt by Abe to dilute the Murayama and Kono statements or to deny historical facts will be damaging to Japan's reputation in the world and to Japan's national interests," Cortazzi commented.
He concluded in the article titled "Will Japan repeat past errors" that "a repetition of events in the 1930s is inconceivable but there is much about politics in Tokyo to cause alarm among those of us who admire Japanese culture and have many Japanese friends."
The article came at a time when the prime minister is seeking the passage of a series of security bills allowing the Self- Defense Forces (SDF) to exercise the right to collective defense, but about 98 percent of the country's constitutional scholars said the bills are "unconstitutional" since Japan's war-renouncing Constitution bans the SDF from using of collective defense.
"If Abe administration would force this policy without amending the constitution, that would be the beginning of tyranny, that is a destruction of the rule of law," Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus at Keio University and a prominent scholar on Japan's constitution, said Monday in a press conference.
Kobayashi testified in a recent Diet session that the bills are "unconstitutional" and another constitutional scholar Yasuo Hasebe, professor of constitutional law at Waseda Law School, also made the same testimony in the parliament session and was accused by LDP lawmakers as an inexpert of national security.
Hasebe slammed the criticism and defended himself that "If I say what is congruent with the interest of the government, they say I am an expert. And if I say something which is against the interest of the government, they allege that I am an inexpert. This is quite astounded."
Hasebe testified for the enactment of the Special Secrecy Law in 2013 and was seen as a national security expert by the ruling party. "If you said I'm not an expert on the national security, you should immediately abolish the notorious secrecy law," the professor satirized the LDP on Monday.