Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Resolving History Issues Will Help Japan In Defense: U.S. Experts
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Japan can use diplomacy to expand its self-defense operations without having to revise the Constitution, two panelists said at a conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.
- Joseph Nye, left, and Richard Armitage
At a symposium sponsored by Nikkei Inc. and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) -- a Washington-based think tank -- both Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor, and Richard Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, agreed that visits by the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Tokyo's war-linked Yasukuni Shrine and a reversal of the Kono Statement of 1993, which apologized to South Korea about the "comfort women" issue, would damage Japan's international standing.
"I believe that Japan has a right to collective self-defense under the U.N. Charter," Nye said. "I think it is already exercising it with its exercises in Somalia," referring to the nation's anti-piracy efforts off the coast of Africa.
The two warned, however, that bringing sensitive history into politics was likely to lead to international disdain.
"If one looks at the question of visiting Yasukuni as prime minister," Nye said, "one has to ask what the effects will be on neighbors. Visits to Yasukuni have become symbolic of the problems Japan has not overcome with regard to its neighbors."
Armitage said Abe visiting Yasukuni would be a disservice to the Japanese people. "The prime minister does not just represent those that voted him into office; he represents all Japanese people," he said.
On the comfort women issue, Nye said: "Reversing the (Kono) statement would be Japan damaging itself. It would also hurt Japan's relations with many in the U.S."
The 10th and latest symposium hosted by Nikkei and CSIS in Tokyo brings together experts from Japan and the U.S. to discuss issues related to the U.S.-Japan alliance.