WW II - the saga continues

With Japan's current Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi widely expected to step down in September, two of the leading candidates hoping to replace him both have family connections that have outraged key allies in the region. 

Last October I noted the problems for Shinzo Abe.  At the relatively young age of 50, Abe is a rising star in Liberal Democratic Party with a family history bound to fan the flames of historical mistrust across Asia.

Today in the Japan Times, Robyn Lim notes that Taro Aso, the other leading candidate, also has a family problem.  Lim explains:

When Foreign Minister Taro Aso visited Australia recently, did he know that the father of the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, had been a Japanese prisoner of war in the notorious Changi jail in Singapore? And if Alexander Downer Sr. had been sent to a certain camp in Kyushu, as some 200 other Australian POWs were, he might have become a slave laborer in the Aso family coal mine.

Aso was in Australia for security talks with his American and Australian counterparts. But can Japan really expect Australia to be a partner in constraining Chinese ambition if Australians think that Japan is becoming more part of the problem than the solution?

Like Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Aso appears to believe that Japan's history problem is only with China and South Korea. That is untrue. Japan's history problem is also with other U.S. allies such as Australia and Singapore. And Aso has special problems, since his family has never acknowledged what it did, let alone offered restitution. 

Brian Schwarz    5 17 06

With Japan's current Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi widely expected to step down in September, two of the leading candidates hoping to replace him both have family connections that have outraged key allies in the region. 

Last October I noted the problems for Shinzo Abe.  At the relatively young age of 50, Abe is a rising star in Liberal Democratic Party with a family history bound to fan the flames of historical mistrust across Asia.

Today in the Japan Times, Robyn Lim notes that Taro Aso, the other leading candidate, also has a family problem.  Lim explains:

When Foreign Minister Taro Aso visited Australia recently, did he know that the father of the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, had been a Japanese prisoner of war in the notorious Changi jail in Singapore? And if Alexander Downer Sr. had been sent to a certain camp in Kyushu, as some 200 other Australian POWs were, he might have become a slave laborer in the Aso family coal mine.

Aso was in Australia for security talks with his American and Australian counterparts. But can Japan really expect Australia to be a partner in constraining Chinese ambition if Australians think that Japan is becoming more part of the problem than the solution?

Like Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Aso appears to believe that Japan's history problem is only with China and South Korea. That is untrue. Japan's history problem is also with other U.S. allies such as Australia and Singapore. And Aso has special problems, since his family has never acknowledged what it did, let alone offered restitution. 

Brian Schwarz    5 17 06