Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe did not go into his line of work to make friends. Since regaining the premiership in 2012, Abe has made a habit of insulting Japan’s neighbors and allies. He’s denied, in the face of copious evidence, that the Imperial Japanese Army used hundreds of thousands of Korean women as sex slaves, and he’s prayed at the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals. According to a report in the Guardian, Abe has also “hinted that he will not repeat previous official apologies for Japan’s wartime conduct in a highly anticipated statement to mark the anniversary of the end of the Pacific war.”
Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress has now blundered by appearing to give tacit backing to Prime Minister Abe’s revisionism. It has invited the prime minister to address a Joint Session of Congress. That’s fine, of course – Japan remains a crucial ally of the United States. But the day selected for the prime minister’s address could not have been more ill-chosen: he will take the podium on April 29th. That is Showa Day in Japan, which marks the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, the country’s war-time leader. Koreans have expressed outrage at the date of the address; so has a coalition of U.S. war veterans.
There’s good news here though, in that Prime Minister Abe will be in the United States for a total of eight days. The solution is simple: Congress should reschedule his address.