With Pearl Harbor attack 73 years in the past, Japan to vote on its future
Pearl Harbor is a powerful reminder of the importance of Japan. The surprise attack launched 73 years ago, Sunday (or Monday by Tokyo time) by Japanese forces changed the course of history, plunging America into World War Two and, eventually, sealing Japan’s imperial fate. From the ashes of the war these bitter enemies forged an unlikely alliance that has weathered many storms. Today it is more important than ever before.
After two decades of stagnant economic growth, Japan has awoken from its slumber under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hyper-active second tenure. But with the economy slipping once again into recession and political scandals erupting almost weekly, Japan’s transformation is at a critical juncture. Seeking a popular mandate to continue this “Abenomics” agenda he claims is the only way out of this slump.
The Japanese will be heading to the polls in less than a week in the shadows of history to deliver their verdict on Japan’s youngest post-war prime minister and the first to be born after World War Two. For Abe, the past weighs heavily both personally and politically as the grandson of a prime minister who sacrificed his premiership for the sake of the deeply unpopular U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. Historical legacies of World War Two continue to hold back cooperation in Asia and have particularly plagued Japan’s post-Cold War global role. Pearl Harbor is an important reminder of how Japan was once hijacked by a military industrial complex that demanded further conquest to maintain its empire, but also of the new Japan that through embracing defeat and American occupation re-imagined itself as the world’s first pacifist power that constitutionally was forbidden from waging war. Acknowledging the anomaly of imperial Japan versus the island nation’s subsequent track record is important.
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