Tokyo Giant Shinzo Abe (1954-2022).

Foreign Affairs

Tokyo Giant: Shinzo Abe (1954-2022)

American liberals are unable to comprehend the extraordinary achievements of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam’s Kilo Pier on December 27, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Former prime minister Shinzo abe was murdered by an inept nobody at a campaign stop, which took place in Nara’s ancient capital on July 8. The motives were apparently not political. (It may have been religiously motivated, though–some reports indicate that the murderer’s mother was a member of the Korea-based Unification Church, which Abe was perceived to support.) To kill Abe, the assassin used his homemade pipe gun.

Nothing but praise for the spirit of the Samurai. The Japanese knew who they were targeting in the past and why. And it’s not exactly high Chushingura style to punk out and hit your man in the back from twenty feet away. No swords, no ritual, no honor.

Unfortunately, so much is also true for Western liberals who have been completely unable to understand what’s going on in Japan since the Meiji Restoration. The death of Abe, like nothing I have ever seen, has revealed the gap between America and Japan, which will not be close as long as Washington is under the control of liberals.

Shinzo Abe, a Tokyo titan, was responsible for changing the Japanese political landscape and establishing pro-democracy alliances in South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia. But to hear the Americans tell it, Abe was a fascist and quite possibly heralded the second coming of the Third Reich.

The liberal Americans refused to get along with Abe and, frankly speaking, they didn’t deserve his kindness. It is likely that it will be too late for them to heal the division they created with Japan. Abe was the one man who could do it, but now he is gone and the liberals who lambasted Abe in life are gloating in his death.

For a glimpse into the gap between Washington and Tokyo that Abe was forever trying to close, consider the hit which National Public Radio ran against the former prime minister, virtually while he was still bleeding out on a gurney: a “divisive arch-conservative,” NPR claimed. Was Abe, as Washington’s liberal consensus claims, really “divisive archconservative”?

The short answer to both is “no”.

First: “arch-conservative”? It would be nice. If Abe had been an American Congressman, he would be firmly on the Democrat side and a lot further to the left than that group when it comes to many issues. Abe, a leftist big-government politician, was an advocate for the environment, fiscal policy and health care. Abe’s Abenomics plan to revive the Japanese economy involved statism, money printing and a lot of it. Abe and his team of economist advisors did not blink when the national debt exploded. Japan’s so-called conservatives continue pushing the central bank for more fiat currencies.

Had Abe lived in the United States, he would be firmly on the Democrat side and on many other issues, he would probably have been on the far left.

Ditto to globalist boondoggles such as the SDGs and the United Nations. Abe and almost the entire postwar period’s ruling party in Japan, the Liberal Democrats, over which Abe presided were not conservative about most things Americans could recognize. Abe rarely mentioned abortion. Abe was not opposed to Japan having slightly less permissive gun laws that Singapore and North Korea. He truly believed in parliamentary democracy as a kind of Platonic ideal, and gave a rousing speech to the American Congress in 2015 that was a love letter to the Washington democratic mythos.

Abe is a Kennedy-style Democrat, even on national defense. In April of this year, I attended a talk in Tokyo held by the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies (JFSS), a policy research organization of which I am a member. As the JFSS’s chief advisor, Abe was the main speaker. The Russian invasion in Ukraine and the imminent invasion by the communist government of Taiwan of Taiwan, heavily influenced his remarks. At the meeting, Abe suggested that Japan increase its defense spending by 1 percent to 2 percent. This proposal is mainstream. A 2-percent-of-GDP defense budget would put Japan roughly on par with Australia, France, and Taiwan, and still leave it well behind Vietnam, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.

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It should be mentioned that Abe wanted more defense spending to protect not only Japan but other democracies such as Taiwan. If I remember correctly, there was a similar speech given once before. Let every nation, regardless of its wishes, know that they will pay whatever price to ensure the survival and success of liberty. This much we pledge, and more.” So spoke that arch-conservative warmonger John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1961.

But Kennedy is a white American liberal. You might not believe it, but they get away with much more and must answer for far less.

American professor Jeff Kingston, for example, found it difficult to write a sentence during the Abe years which didn’t connect the Japanese prime minister with “fascism.” Tokyo-based “journalist” Jake Adelstein, whose life story (which may be faked) is the subject of an HBO series, threw Aristotle’s Law of Identity to the winds to insist that Abe Shinzo was “literally Hitler.”

American liberals such as Kingston and Adelstein kept reminding us every day that Abe’s maternal grandfather, Kishi, was imprisoned in the American Occupation, for “war crimes” committed in Manchukuo. Liberals forget to mention that Kishi was then appointed prime minister and broker of the U.S.-Japan alliance. This gave Washington an archipelago wide airfield, and allowed the U.S. military to carpet bomb from Pyongyang through Saigon. My view is that Kishi was not guilty of war crimes until his collaboration with the American Empire. Abe continued the legacy of his grandfather by integrating Japan’s geopolitics with Washington’s. Abe, for that little bit of muscle democracy-ism was “literally Hitler

Why were the white American liberals so sensitive about Abe While Abe was a co-worker on liberal projects such as nation-building, free trade and open borders, he rejected the fabrications that blamed East Asia for white American liberal guilt. He bought into the need to defend and expand democracy in Asia, in other words, but he didn’t think that the price for that deal ought to be lying about what really happened in this part of the world in the 1930s and ’40s. Abe’s drive to revise the constitution Washington communists and New Deal liberals imposed on Japan in 1946 was the absolute limit. This was the reason Abe received most unhinged criticisms from today’s Rooseveltians. Abe was willing to cooperate with Americans but only if facts were based and not Washington’s fairytale.

University of Connecticut professor Alexis Dudden, a seasoned anti-Japanist and Abe-hater, took to the pages of the New Yorker to repeat one of her favorite slurs against the gunned-down prime minister: “Holocaust denialism.” Abe of course never denied the Holocaust. As his predecessors did throughout the postwar period, he repeated his apology for any wartime suffering that Japan caused. Dudden wrote even a book on those sorrys.

But Dudden may not have understood what they were referring to. Dudden has limited Japanese proficiency. It is not a common characteristic among American Japan experts. This monolinguism in American Japan is the root of the problems with the Japan-U.S. Alliance. The real reason Abe is so disliked by academics was Dudden’s desperate attempt to portray the Japanese leader as a Holocaust denizen. American liberals consider Abe to have committed the most serious sin. He refused to let them write his country’s history.

Few Americans will have heard of the War Guilt Information Program. It is fundamental to today’s U.S. Japan alliance. The Japanese were subject to psychological warfare by communists, liberals, and the American government during the occupation. Washington wanted to prove that the United States had not committed war crimes in World War II. He did this by bombing and atom-bombing supine towns full of elderly and women. The War Guilt Information Program was part of the attempt by Washington to rewrite Japanese history to make it seem that only Tokyo had been to blame for the destruction of the war in Asia and the Pacific.

Japanese History textbooks were inked line-by-line. Japanese newspapers could not mention the Japanese campaign for rape perpetrated by American soldiers in Japan. With the approval of American authorities, the Occupation freed communists from Japanese jails. The communists then went on to brainwash and social engineer the Japanese people. Communists took over Japanese schools via the Nikkyoso, the nationwide Japanese teachers’ union, and spent decades convincing Japanese students that Japan was solely responsible for the war. There was WGIP at Kanagawa Prefecture before there was CRT. A civilian employee with the Occupation named Helen Mears saw what was going on and wrote a book, Mirror for Americans: Japan, to tell her fellow Americans about the revisionist campaign. General Douglas MacArthur, the Occupation’s chief of staff, stopped her book being published in Japan and translated it.

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It is still taboo for white American liberals today to suggest that World War II was anything but a divine war waged in heaven by Washington. Yet, Americans who wrote Hiroshima or Nagasaki — to not mention the Native Genocide that took them Hawaii and the Philippines—-were also guilty of many other crimes. This is what’s important. White American liberals can write your history.

This legacy is the true legacy of postwar times and is something Abe faced head-on. The past was not something he denied. It was a fact he faced. His history isn’t a morality play. There is a lot of hatred and murder in history, and nobody has the right to say which good or bad. Abe refused to accept the fact that Japan could not be considered a peaceful partner in peace efforts around the globe if she was a slave to an untrued legacy. Abe made a tragic error by accepting the word of liberals when they demanded open discussion. He learned from Alexis Dudden and Jeff Kingston, white American liberals who continue to exercise MacArthurian privileges of giving orders to Japan in Japanese language. They also taught Abe that the American liberals simply say the facts and what will happen next, with no exceptions.

What about NPR’s second assertion, that Abe is “divisive?” If you have been following Japanese news over the past few years, then you will be aware that Abe has united Japan and the entire region like no other political leader. For example, the Japanese people have rallied behind Abe’s call to revise the constitution. Japan has been exposed to North Korea’s missile launches and China’s belligerence, as well as the fall of Hong Kong, while Washington watched distantly. The imminent communist takeover of Taipei and the invasion by Ukraine opened their eyes. It has been a shift in the mood. Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping have cured “Heiwaboke,” postwar “peacenik illness” that caused many Japanese to just shrug off world events and say “Well, Americans will protect me.” Joe Biden’s infamy in Afghanistan was also good medicine. Abe’s vision won.

Last month I gave a talk here (in Japanese!–non-liberal Americans actually have to learn foreign languages) about the Japanese constitution. It should be torn apart and thrown away as a relic from an unjust war or occupation. After the talk, a lady approached me in the lobby. The lady said that she had seen the posters for the talk but didn’t want to know my opinions. Because I am a well-known right-winger here in Japan, I was prepared for any impact. Expecting resistance, I explained to her that Japan’s constitution was a threat. It shocked me to hear that she was once a strong supporter for the “peace constitution”, the one I suggested should be shredded. However, now that Abe-san had spoken about constitutional reform it made a lot more sense. She continued, “Wars happen and countries must be protected.” True peace is not achieved by wishful thinking but strength.

Abe is a uniter. His Tokyo empire was his. The American Left still isn’t sure. They want Abe to be portrayed as a bad guy. Dudden notes archly in her New Yorker smear, for example, that Abe met often with Vladimir Putin. Yes, Abe met with Putin many times. The Soviets stole Japan’s northern islands in August of 1945 and Abe was trying to get them back. Abe preferred that this be done without starting World War III. Abe believed that meeting and talking was an acceptable alternative to exchanging missiles ballistic. This is a dark conspiracy according to the “Japan experts” in America.

Abe, a peace-loving trueist, was a tireless diplomat. He was also a peace-loving, realist because he was the rarest politician: a patriot.

The liberals believe that Abe was a rising dictatorial leader because of his frequent interactions with Trump. Abe was convinced that the U.S.-Japan partnership was keystone to peace in East Asia, the west Pacific and other regions. Trump just happened to be at the time the U.S. president. Abe, a peace-loving realist and tireless diplomat was the reason he was so successful. He was also a peace-loving, realist because he was the rarest politician: a patriot. If it was good for Japan, he would cooperate with any person.

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And the Japanese people understood it. In the election held this past Sunday, just two days after Abe’s assassination, voters roundly rejected the peace talk of the Communists and other dimwits beloved of the American liberals. The Komeito is the LDP’s coalition partner and is supported by the pro-China, pacifist Soka Gakkai Buddhist organisation. This round, however, saw the Komeito shifting its rhetoric in favor of constitutional reform.

Abe’s unity was perhaps best symbolized by the blue ribbon lapel pin that he wore when he passed away. It represented his lifework, Yokota Megumi being returned to Japan and other hostages taken in North Korea under a state-sponsored terrorist program. In 2002, Abe, then a cabinet-level minister, traveled with then-prime minister Koizumi Jun’ichiro to Pyongyang to secure the release of some of those hostages. Abe has been focusing his attention on securing release of hostages. North Korea had abducted many people from Japan and South Korea. This commitment to human rights is symbolized by the blue ribbon that Japan’s society and politicians wear.

Abe formed alliances with other countries on the basis these values. Some of these partnerships transformed geopolitics, for example the Quad, a grouping of Japan, India, Australia, and the United States formed to counter the authoritarian People’s Republic of China. Even South Korea where North Korean sympathizers are working hard to create an anti-Japanism culture and anti-Americanism ever since the Korean War has started to embrace the Abe vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The recent elections in South Korea put a conservative government in power after the disastrous Moon Jae In administration. Moon was pro-North Korea and used the leftist strategy of inciting hatred against Japan. But two runaway bestsellers by South Korean scholars Lee Younghoon, Lee Wooyoun, and other empiricist economic historians showed that the leftist interpretation of history was just plain wrong. In other words, Abe was correct. In 2015 Abe signed a landmark agreement with then-South Korean president Park Geun-hye ending governmental disputes over the comfort women issue that has dogged Seoul and Tokyo for decades. It is difficult to understand the wartime legacy of East Asia, which good-faith politicians and scholars have had to face. Abe was the leader.

In stark contrast to this, Alexis Dudden’s accusation against Abe that he is a “Holocaust Denialismist” is the last ember of a Marxist flame. The anti-Japan hatred that used to act as an Asian unifier is now relegated to the American academy, where it has been embraced by hardcore communists. Abe unified Asia against communism and turned a huge geopolitical map on the common foes of humanity in Pyongyang, Beijing.

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Abe, like other visionary leaders left an indelible void when he passed away. Sanae Takaichi, a parliamentarian from Japan is an important figure in the Japanese conservative mould. She may one day be prime minister. It is my hope that it will be sooner than expected. Kishida Fumio is the current prime minister. He has focused on “new capitalism” as well as other nondescript schemes for obtaining domestic votes. However, there are signs of a wildfire in Asia.

Communist aggression on the rise. It is coming to Taiwan in a time of reckoning. The next war is going to destroy the “1955 System,” the postwar political order in Japan offering domestic stability predicated on security guarantees by the USA. Japan will see that Beijing is not alone when Washington gives Taiwan the boot. Although he was a liberal I’ll be there wishing Abe-san would have been around to fight the communist Chinese. I already do wish it. Japan won’t see the Tokyo giant in the same way, I know this.

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