Dropping ‘no-war’ pledge a part of Abe’s strategy


By CAI HONG, ZHOU WA and REN QI (China Daily) 08:41, January 20, 2014

Increases the bookmark digg Google Delicious buzz friendfeed Linkedin diigo stumbleupon Qzone QQ Microblog Experts say move represents another gesture embracing militarist past

A longtime no-war pledge has disappeared from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s annual working policy revealed on Sunday, while the ruling party vowed to continue visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and push ahead constitutional revision, in another move leading the country in a far-right direction, observers said.

At its 81st LDP annual convention in Tokyo, the party removed the pledge that Japan would “never wage a war”, China Central Television reported on Sunday. Continue reading “Dropping ‘no-war’ pledge a part of Abe’s strategy”

Ishihara: Unrepentant Japanese nationalist

Politics Oct. 26, 2012 – 06:51AM JST( 2 )

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara announces his plan to resign and run for a Diet seat as head of a new conservative party during a news conference in Tokyo on Oct. 25. (Jun Ueda)


Shintaro Ishihara, who resigned as Tokyo governor on Thursday to return to national politics, is an unrepentant nationalist who relishes the chance to provoke the politically correct.

The 80-year-old is known at home and abroad for his sharp tongue—aimed at everyone from immigrants to homosexuals, the United States to China.

In a country that sets great store by reticence and understatement, he stands apart as one of the few colourful characters on an otherwise monochrome political scene.

The novelist-turned-politician has been blamed for one of Japan’s worst foreign policy crises of the last decade after his plan to buy some uninhabited islands provoked a months-long spat with China.

The national government stepped in to outbid Ishihara, who said he wanted to develop the chain, but not before he had amassed 1.4 billion yen in public donations towards the purchase.

Riots and product boycotts followed in China, which has repeatedly sent government ships to disputed waters to press its claim for ownership.

“I think they are insane,” Ishihara said of Beijing’s moves over islands it calls the Diaoyus, but Japan calls the Senkakus. “The Chinese are saying mine is mine and yours is also mine.”

Ishihara has governed Tokyo since 1999, largely enjoying fulsome public support with policies such as banning diesel engines and creating a new-look Tokyo marathon.

He weathered criticism for the amount he spent on a failed bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games and a foray into banking intended to help small businesses that ended badly, but his authority has rarely been in doubt.

He easily won a fourth term in April last year, just weeks after a tsunami crashed into Japan, killing thousands and sparking a nuclear disaster that threatened widespread pollution and large-scale energy shortages.

His bluff public persona and straightforward manner chimed well with an electorate that felt worryingly cast adrift by an absence of strong political leaders.

Born in Kobe in 1932 to a shipping executive, Ishihara achieved fame at only 23 by writing “Season of the Sun”, a novel about youths from respectable families exploring the grubby pleasures of the underworld.

The novel, which won the prestigious Akutagawa prize, later became a film that starred both the future governor and his brother, Yujiro, an acclaimed actor who died of liver cancer in 1987.

Ishihara was first elected as a lawmaker in 1968 as a member of the establishment Liberal Democratic Party.

More than a quarter of a century in parliament included time in both the upper and the lower houses and a stint as transport minister.

In 1995, he left national politics, becoming governor of Tokyo four years later.

Ishihara has repeatedly proved he is unafraid to ruffle feathers and caused uproar in 2010 with his comments on homosexuality.

He told a news conference he believed homosexual people “are missing something, probably something to do with the genes. I feel sorry for them, they are a minority.”

He has ridiculed Chinese and Korean residents and once denounced the United States as a nation of “bigots”, waging a long public battle for Japanese commercial jets to be able to use a sprawling U.S. base near Tokyo.

He outraged U.S. lawmakers more than two decades ago with his book, “The Japan that Can Say No,” in which he described the U.S. military shield around Japan as an illusion and U.S. criticism of Japan as racially motivated.

But it is in China that his pronouncements on shared and complicated history most frequently raise eyebrows.

In 1990, Ishihara told a U.S. magazine: “Japanese troops are said to have engaged in a massacre in Nanjing but it is not true. It is a fabrication by the Chinese side.” China says 300,000 people were killed in 1937 as part of the Imperial Japanese army’s brutal occupation of a swathe of the country.

Ishihara’s son Nobuteru, a senior politician in the LDP, recently made a failed bid for party leadership, being beaten by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September.

© 2012 AFP


Island plans by Tokyo’s nationalist governor may stoke fresh China tensions

By Antoni Slodkowski and Junko FujitaPosted 2012/10/03 at 11:42 pm EDT

TOKYO, Oct. 3, 2012 (Reuters) — Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a fiery nationalist whose failed bid to buy a group of disputed islands ignited a crisis with China, is pushing ahead with a plan to build structures there to hammer home Japan’s claim, officials involved told Reuters.

Although such a move is not imminent, it would be certain to strain Japan’s already shaky relations with China and could prompt a rebuke from the Obama administration, which has urged both sides to ease tensions by setting aside the dispute.

Ishihara’s gambit appears aimed at forcing a new showdown in the island dispute with China. It is based on the view that Japan’s main opposition — the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) — is likely to take power in an election in the coming months and that it would be receptive to his hard-line policies, two officials close to Ishihara said.

Akiko Santo, a member of the House of Councillors from the LDP, said Ishihara would try to win support from a new government to use about $19 million he has raised from contributors to build some basic infrastructure on the islands.

Ishihara’s deputy, Naoki Inose, has confirmed the plan.

They claim that construction of a lighthouse, radio transmitter or basic harbor facilities would increase safety for Japanese fishermen. It was not clear how — or even whether — such private funds could be used for construction on government property.

Ishihara set off the slide in Japan-China relations with his initial bid to buy the islands, ensuring his next steps in the dispute will be scrutinized.

Narushige Michishita, an associate professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, said Ishihara’s push could “re-create the situation we have just gone through — strong reaction from China followed by demonstrations and attacks on Japanese companies.”

That effort was thwarted when the national government outbid Ishihara last month with a taxpayer-funded bid to acquire three of the isolated islands called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s nationalization of the islands was intended to keep them from Ishihara and to head off a more damaging confrontation with China.

But the Japanese government’s move triggered a wave of protests in China that shuttered Japanese factories and stores, disrupted trade and prompted Beijing to strengthen its own claim to the disputed territory.


China has claimed the islands as its “sacred territory” and says its claim predates Japan’s. Patrol ships from the two countries have been circling in a standoff in the waters off the disputed islands, raising concern that a collision or other incident could escalate into a bigger clash.

Now an independent, Ishihara has been governor of Tokyo since 1999. A former LDP member and author, he is best known for writing “The Japan that Can Say No,” a 1989 book that urged Japan to step away from reliance on the United States.

The LDP is expected to capitalize on frustration with Noda’s government and his Democratic Party of Japan, which took power in 2009 but has been criticized for its response to last year’s earthquake and nuclear disaster and its economic stewardship.

Last month, former prime minister Shinzo Abe was elected to lead the LDP as the party heads into an election that could be called before year end. Abe’s selection as his chief aide, Shigeru Ishiba, is a defense expert who has argued Japan should take stronger action to protect territory it claims in disputes with China and South Korea.

Ishihara began raising private contributions from supporters earlier in the year to buy the islands in the East China Sea.

“The funds will be used when something can be done together with the LDP,” said Santo, an Ishihara ally who had tried to broker Tokyo’s effort to buy the islands from the family that has owned them since the late 1970s.

Tokyo vice governor Inose added: “With an Ishiba or Abe government we could use the funds we have raised to build some kind of shelter for ships or a transmitter or lighthouse.”

Ishihara, 80, had said on September 11 — the day the national government signed a contract to buy the islands — that the Tokyo government could hand over the money it raised “if the next administration agreed to build a minimum of infrastructure” on the disputed territory.

Inose and Santo indicated those plans were still moving ahead even after the wave of costly protests in China and the escalating tension between the two sides over the past month.

Recent opinion polls show the LDP as more popular than the center-left DPJ and Abe as having more support than Noda among Japanese voters. That could create a new opening for Ishihara to push his plans for the disputed islands.

Noda, 55, said last month his priority was to “maintain stable administration” over the islands and questions of any construction on the property should be taken up later.

“We are already maintaining and controlling (the islands) in a calm and stable manner,” Japan Foreign Koichiro Gemba said on Wednesday when asked about proposals to build on the islands.

Now that Abe has taken the LDP’s helm, his stance on territorial disputes will be reflected in the party’s policy, an LDP official in the party’s policy planning wing said.

“I think Abe and Ishiba are of the same mind here (as Ishihara),” Santo told Reuters. “Of course, all of this depends on the LDP taking back power in the next election.”

($1=78.04 yen)

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, writing by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)