Obama and the absence of apology in Hiroshima

US President Barack Obama speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

‘As President of the United States of America, I express my profound apologies for the sufferings inflicted on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bombings’. These, of course, are the words that we are not going to hear Barack Obama speak in Hiroshima on 27 May Read more…

Japan still coming to terms with 3.11

A file picture dated 5 April 2011 shows Mayor of the Urashuku First Ward and an emergency volunteer firefighter Fumio Hiratsuka, 76, looking for his missing relatives at a makeshift mass grave for tsunami victims in the coastal town of Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

It is the stillness that is most overwhelming. The rubble has been cleared away. The grass has grown back. But along much of the coastal strip devastated by the tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011, a silence remains.

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The ever-shifting sands of Japanese apologies

Protestors gather in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on 17 February 2016, after Japan told the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women that it has found no documents confirming that so-called ‘comfort women’ were forcibly recruited by military or government authorities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

On 16 February, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida signed a ‘Strategy for Co-operation in the Pacific’, in which both countries emphasised their shared values of ‘democracy, human rights and the rule of law’. Read more…

Historical revisionism undermines Abe’s apology

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reads out his statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on 14 August 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

On 14 August, the day before the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a long-awaited statement on Japanese memory of the war and his vision for the future. In it, he emphasised that the apologies given by previous Japanese cabinets ‘will remain unshakable into the future’. Read more…

Abe’s WWII statement fails history 101

Shinzo Abe statement WWII

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

As the clock ticked down to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Asia Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced a dilemma. His right-wing supporters were pushing him to produce a commemorative statement that would move away from the apologetic approach of his predecessors and ‘restore Japan’s pride’. Read more…

70 years on, peace remains incomplete

Paper lanterns float on the Motoyasu River in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima on August 6, 2015 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

‘Japan has appeared to surrender, and we are waiting this weekend to hear whether this will become effective. If so, this horrible war will be at an end, but many of its ill-effects will be with us for a long time. It is, in fact, a new world that lies before us. I hope that freedom, beauty, quiet and security may find a place in it. It is a hope without much confidence.’ Read more…

Still a way to go for Japanese minorities

Ainu drummers hammer out the sounds of their musical tradition. The Ainu were not officially recognised as an indigenous people until 2008. (Photo by:  Gianfranco Chicco).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

In August 2014 Yasuyuki Kaneko, a city councillor for Sapporo, sparked intense controversy by tweeting ‘there are no such people as the Ainu any more, are there? [But] they constantly demand rights they don’t deserve. How can this be reasonable?’ Read more…