2015年4月27日 星期一

Q&A : Japan’s Shinzo Abe on History, the Military, Memories of America

The Wall Street Journal sat down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for two interview sessions—on April 19 at his official residence and on April 20 at the Prime Minister’s office—in advance of his visit to the U.S. The Journal published excerpts on economics on April 20.
In these new excerpts, Mr. Abe talks about Japan’s wartime history, national security, approval ratings and his personal experiences in the U.S.
WSJ: You’ve talked a lot about correcting some of the impressions about Japan’s World War II record. Why do you think it’s so important today, in 2015, to talk about this historical Japanese record?
Mr. Abe: I have no intention of trying to change how people around the world feel about the war. I speak about history because this year is the critical juncture that marks 70 years since the end of the war, and because even if I don’t bring it up, I am questioned in parliament time and time again about the subject…I have stated over and over again that I have inherited my understanding of the history of the war completely from the same understanding of history as previous administrations.
WSJ: You’ve talked in the past about “self-torturing” textbooks in Japanese schools, arguing that they overemphasize the negative role of Japan in this period. Do you think Japan is not functioning as a normal country because of so much attention on Japan’s past?
Mr. Abe: In terms of textbooks, I think balance is important. For example, when [former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher undertook education reforms in 1988, things changed greatly so that textbooks had to maintain a balance between showing both the light and the dark when describing England’s past.
According to a survey of children’s attitudes—this is a comparison with other counties—there is a large number of Japanese children who are not proud of their country. That is connected to the fact that there are also many children who don’t have pride in themselves….
I want to say that there should be balance, and that there are both light and dark parts in history. Therefore, it is important for people to know from many points of view about the activities throughout long years of history that shaped the country of Japan.
WSJ: Do you think the way of history being taught in Japan has diminished the country’s pride? And why is that a problem?
Mr. Abe: I think it is true to say that there is such a trend in education in the 70 years since the end of the war. It’s not everyone, but as I said before, surveys show that has made some [children] unable to have self-confidence and led to a lack of pride. [That is] according to surveys. It means they are unable to assert themselves. It also means they can’t speak about their country when they debate with children from foreign countries. This has led Japanese people to take a passive stance when it comes to many different reforms. Therefore, I think they may become extremely cautious when it comes to doing reforms in such fields as agriculture, electricity, corporations and working styles, like we are doing now.
WSJ: In your speech to Congress, will you address some of the issues that are still quite difficult for a lot of Americans, to do with some of Japan’s activities in the Second World War and the years preceding it?
Mr. Abe: In my speech, I want to say that the U.S. and Japan progressed in the postwar period after reflecting on the war, and thanks to the alliance, we have protected the peace and stability of Japan and the region.
WSJ: Tell us about plans to announce new military guidelines with PresidentObama, as well as changes to Japan’s defense laws. What new kind of role will Japan play after these changes?
Mr. Abe: For example, in the area of Japan, a U.S. Aegis destroyer and a Japanese Aegis destroyer are tasked with guarding against a ballistic missile attack. If there was an attack against the U.S. destroyer, Japan would not be able to prevent that from happening under the current law, even if Japan had the capability to protect the U.S. Even if that was theoretically a missile attack against Japan in peacetime or against the Aegis destroyer that was on guard, Japan would not have been able to protect that Aegis destroyer. In the future, the Japanese Aegis destroyer will be able to protect the U.S. Aegis destroyer.
It’s undeniable that the alliance will become even more capable with this legal reform, and as a result, will improve our powers of deterrence…If you put the power of the U.S. Navy and Japan’s maritime self-defense forces together, then one plus one will finally become two. This deterrence force will contribute greatly to the peace and stability of the region.
WSJ: Does China’s rise make a stronger relationship with Japan more important for the U.S.?
Mr. Abe: The rise of China is a big opportunity for the economy. Last year, a record number of Chinese tourists visited Japan…Naturally, the Chinese market is also very attractive for Japan.
At the same time, it’s true that China is increasing military expenditures by over 10% every year. It’s also very interesting that America is pursuing a policy of “rebalancing.” However, we shouldn’t think we can leave peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region all to the U.S., and for the U.S. Also, I think they want to keep peace and stability in this region with their allied countries and not just by themselves. Japan can keep the power balance of this region if Japan and the U.S. join forces. At the same time, I think that is a beneficial way to encourage China to fulfill its responsibilities as a great power and to aim for constructive development, and effective for U.S.-Japan cooperation.
WSJ: The U.S. has rebuffed China’s plans for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Do you have any intention of announcing your participation, or what conditions would be necessary for you to participate?
Mr. Abe: With infrastructure demand in Asia increasing now, I think the AIIB is an initiative to respond to that demand by supplying funding. It is not just the U.S. and Japan who are concerned, but there is the issue of whether governance is solid and whether each project is screened well. Again, whether the loans are sustainable, or how to think about the burden to the environment or the society. There are many unclear points left.
WSJ: You were quoted saying that Japan refused entry into AIIB to show its loyalty to the U.S. What did you mean by that?
Mr. Abe: I have not been correctly quoted. We are cautious for the reason that I just stated. At the same time, in the financial world as well, and as a member of the alliance, I am very aware of the importance of displaying our leadership, and walking in step with the U.S. with whom we share the same universal values.
WSJ: Tell us your memories and impressions from the time you lived in the U.S.
Mr. Abe: I was in the U.S. in the late 1970s to early 1980s. First, compared with Japan, the diversity of the U.S. made a deep impression on me. I thought, “So this is the dynamism of America!” Then, Americans are really frank when they speak. In Japan, you have to use polite language when you speak with someone senior to you, but I was deeply impressed how in the U.S., even if you’re young, junior or senior, you can talk candidly.
WSJ: Your support rate is high, but you are also seen as a polarizing politician who stirs strong opposition, even fear, from your opponents. Why is that?
Mr. Abe: It’s said that both my approval and disapproval ratings are strong as a trend. In Japan, there has never been a politician who tackled things such as national-security policy. I am going at national-security policy and education policy head on, so I think that means that there are many people who have an allergy to those things.
WSJ: What kind of impression do you want to leave with your U.S. visit?
Mr. Abe: Up until now, many Japanese prime ministers have just gone to Washington and come home. This time, I’m going to Boston, I’m going to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. At each stop, I want to talk about the kind of big reforms, big changes that Japan’s doing. I want to deliver the message that Japan will recover its dynamism, recover its will to grow strongly and contribute even more actively than before to the peace and prosperity of the region and the world. Finally, I want to deliver the message that the unshakable U.S.-Japan alliance will continue to lead peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.