When Japan needs to face its own past and build up trust with Asia
US president arrived in Tokyo Haneda airport tonight around 1900 April 23rd 2014, Wednesday evening. He will meet prime minister Shinzo Abe at a sushi restaurant in Ginza, a private dinner "to get to know each other better" as a watcher told me. Obama will stay in a hotel during this trip but all discussions of the summit will be held at the Akasaka palace. First state visit by a US president since Bill Clinton. The main talk in town is about trade and TPP for the 12 nations of the Asia Pacific region. But the regional issues are on the agenda.
According to Kyodo agency, "Obama will explain the US intention to focus on Asia, a policy described as "rebalancing." Among the problems of the time, the maritime security, the territorial disputes with China and Korea (Senkaku/Diaoyu and Dokdo/Liancourt Rocks/Takeshima), the history divide between Japan and her neighbours China and Korea on war crimes such as the "Comfort Women." US and Japan are to discuss their security pact and also the future of Okinawa and the Collective Defence, with a more "offensive" policy by Japan administration under Shinzo Abe, both politics and economy.
Obama will meet the Emperor, 24th, have a state banquet in the evening, he will also visit a Shinto shrine: the Meiji Jingu. He will visit the Miraikan, the "national museum of emerging science and innovation" on Odaiba (the place where some of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be organised) then Obama will continue his Asia journey with a flight to Seoul to meet president Park Geun Hye, then Malaysia and the Philippines.
Analysing this visit and the current situation faced by Japan I read this interesting comment from social and literary critic Norihiro Kato in the Asahi shimbun: "Japan must face up to ‘3 distortions’ of WW II defeat", where he explained how Japan "experienced a dramatic downturn in its diplomacy with not only China and South Korea but also the United States." The sincerity of Japanese politicians vis a vis the other Asian partners needs to be re examined.
And as an illustration that some segment of the Japanese so called "sentimental nationalist" seem not to appreciate the visit of US president Obama, I was quite surprised to see and especially to hear the demonstrations of the nationalists right wing, a few yards from the US embassy, prior to Obama 'Air Force One' landing on Tokyo Haneda airport. Some words could hurt young people and excessive sounds could hurt your ears, watch out... This is Tokyo daily reality.