At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe compared recent tensions between China and Japan to the rivalry between the British and German empires at the start of the 20th century.
A conservative nationalist, Abe has denied that Imperial Japan forced 250,000 foreign “comfort women” into sexual slavery, urged changes in school curricula to downplay Japanese wartime atrocities and recently visited the controversial war memorial Yasukuni shrine. Tension between China and Japan has escalated since November, when China unilaterally extended its air-defense zone over the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea .
My country’s government believes that Abe’s actions since returning to power undermine his stated aim to increase Japan’s engagement in safeguarding world peace. His government’s efforts to accelerate Japan’s military buildup and his initiative to rewrite Japan’s largely U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution are disconcerting, particularly in the context of his assertions, when talking about World War II, that the term “aggression” has yet to be defined and that no evidence exists proving that “comfort women” were forced into sexual servitude during the war.