By Chin Heng-wei 金恒煒
The shocking assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by a sniper on July 8 has become an international news event, just after the war in Ukraine. The next day, Time magazine published an image of its upcoming cover, featuring a black-and-white photograph of Abe.
Meanwhile, countries including Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, India and the United States lowered their national flags to mourn Abe’s passing.
Abe’s untimely and violent death drew a strong reaction from the Japanese electorate. In House of Councilors elections held just three days after the shooting, the Liberal Democratic Party and three other parties that also support changing Japan’s pacifist post-World War II constitution won 177 seats. This gives the Japanese government a two-thirds majority in the upper house of parliament to enact a constitutional amendment. Japanese voters have decisively expressed their will.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after the election results were announced that he would fulfill Abe’s long-held wish to return Japan to a normalized nation by removing the second paragraph of Article 9 from the constitution, which states that “Land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potentials, will never be maintained. The State’s right to belligerence will not be recognized.
I believe historians inside and outside of Japan will likely conclude that Abe made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his nation. Why do I believe this is the case?
German lawmaker Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “It’s tragic that it took a war like this, but now we Germans we woke up with a bang.”
Although Germany has been reluctant to increase the size of its military given the legacy of the Nazi era, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a 100 billion euro ($102 billion) increase in spending defence, saying it was the start of a new era.
Today, Japan, as another former Axis power, is following in Germany’s footsteps and preparing to transform the Japan Self-Defense Forces into a full-fledged fighting force.
Both nations are entering a new era and emerging from the shadow cast by their World War II heritage.
The only major country rolling in the opposite direction is China. After Abe’s death, a number of shops and restaurants in China displayed red banners in front of their storefronts, carrying messages such as: “Yesterday was July 7, today Abe is no longer “. Why the emphasis on this date?
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7, 1937 sparked the Second Sino-Japanese War. Chinese references to the Abe assassination incident are blatantly misleading by ideologues and reflect the dead end of Han Chinese nationalism into which many have collectively wandered.
That such behavior occurs in China is not remarkable.
However, a number of Taiwanese strongly opposed the lowering of the national flag by the government after Abe’s death. One of them was Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元), former chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) disciplinary committee and lawyer, who said, “If you want to engage in japanolatry, that’s your prerogative. , but please don’t break the law.
The Chinese term for “Japanolatry” is composed of the characters for “wild on” (媚) and “Japan” (日). It is a pejorative term used by extremist Han Chinese nationalists.
Yeh’s accusation that the government broke the law is a reference to the Half-mast Enforcement Regulations (國旗下半旗實施辦法).
He is wrong to do so.
This law does not apply when a president issues an executive order to lower the national flag. In addition, section 4 of the regulations gives the president the power to lower the flag for “individuals who have made a special, outstanding or significant contribution” to the nation.
Whether Abe made such a contribution is not for Yeh to determine.
The rhetorical formula “one family on each side of the Taiwan Strait” is based on an ideology that refers to the Chinese “motherland” and is shared by people like the president of the Broadcasting Corp of China, Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康), former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), and Sun Yat-sen school president Chang Ya-chung (張亞中). They may be physically in Taiwan, but their souls are in China.
The KMT promotes language borrowed directly from China with expressions such as the “war of resistance against Japan” or the “arduous eight-year war”, both of which refer to the Second Sino-Japanese War. These terms have no relation to Taiwan or Taiwanese society, as the nation was a Japanese colony at the time of the war.
Regardless of whether they adhere to a pro-Japanese or pro-Chinese ideology, Taiwanese have always rejected militarism.
Japan today is a thriving democracy, while China is the enemy of democratic principles. Taiwan and Japan must together resist Chinese fascism.
Abe coined the term “Indo-Pacific region” as a strategic framework and said “Taiwan’s problem is Japan’s problem”.
Taiwanese are grateful to Abe in the same spirit as Ukrainians thank British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his support for their country.
The rest of the world has finally turned a page on World War II. If the Chinese wish to wallow in the pages of history, that is their prerogative. Taiwan and Japan can now move forward into the future, side by side, with the democratic world.
Chin Heng-wei is a political commentator
Translated by Edward Jones
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