Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is one of the strongest leaders Japan has seen in generations. U.S. President Obama even said as much in a picture he signed to the leader that read: “Thank you for your strong leadership.” As much as Abe’s eminent trip to the U.S. means the countries will be closer allies, his views on World War II are stirring up some controversy.
With China continually building up tentions in the South China Sea, having Japan as a close ally bodes well for the Obama administration. Abe’s resume speaks for itself. He doubled Japan’s stock market to a 15-year high, created a Japanese version of the Marines, and greatly improved relations with foreign powers.
Despite all that, there is one nagging thing that stresses his relations with the United States—his controversial stance on World War II. Mainly, his denial and attempts to cover up the true picture of the war. For instance, he requested that a U.S. textbook company remove a chapter that detailed wartime brutalities.
The inability to admit or apologize for violations that occurred during the war have deeply angered some American groups. Protests by Korean-American groups are already planned during his visit. Their message is for him to admit the aggression that Japan showed during the war, particularly the use of comfort women.
The admission may not come anytime soon though, as Abe told The Wall Street Journal:
I have no intention of trying to change how people around the world feel about the war.
Though Abe dropped some of that bravado recently during a speech in Indonesia where he said he felt deep regret over the war, but fell short of an apology.
The issue with human rights groups, as put by The New York Times, is that: “Mr. Abe’s administration denies that imperial Japan ran a system of human trafficking and coerced prostitution, implying that comfort women were simply camp-following prostitutes.”
While it may seem as though the admission many seek from the Abe administration is superficial, because those crimes happened 60 years ago, as The Times points out, that’s not exactly true because: “Rape and sex trafficking in wartime remain problems worldwide. If we hope to ever reduce these abuses, the efforts of the Abe administration to deny history cannot go unchallenged.”