The Democrats are continuing a long if not respectable tradition of applying much tougher standards to American allies than to other countries, this time by lashing out at Abe’s perceived “failure” to apologize, during his speech before the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, for Japan’s enslavement of women in military brothels during World War II. The Hill:
“It is shocking and shameful that Prime Minister Abe continues to evade his government’s responsibility for the systematic atrocity that was perpetrated by the Japanese Imperial Army against the so-called ‘comfort women’ during World War II,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), a Japanese-American, said afterward.
“Today’s refusal to squarely face history is an insult to the spirit of the 200,000 girls and women from the Asia-Pacific who suffered during World War II,” he added. “This is unacceptable.”
It cannot be doubted that this, among many other horrible atrocities, was the direct fault of Japanese leaders who exhibited extreme brutality in a crazed war of aggression. But the atrocities of Chinese leaders in much more recent times were larger in scale and equally barbaric. Moreover, they were even less justifiable, as they were committed against decent, law-abiding Chinese citizens in peace time. Do these supremely moral arbiters demand that every Russian leader crawl over Stalin’s crimes? Or do they hurl the crimes of the mullahs in the face of every Iranian diplomat they meet?
Japan should do more to address the issue of “comfort women.” It’s important for the sake of stability and peace in Asia and also, ultimately, for Japan’s own standing and dignity in the world. Too many Japanese nationalists (like some Turkish nationalists one could mention) seem to think that denial and evasion is the best way to deal with historic tragedies and crimes. But the Congress of the United States was not the proper place for Japan’s Prime Minister to address crimes committed against citizens of non-U.S. countries generations ago.
Japan and America need to be working to ensure that the 21st century is spared the horrors of the 20th. Narcissistic posturing in the U.S. Congress makes this harder and not easier.