Well, now it is official: Aso Taro is a bad man.
Japan's Offensive MinisterNow begins the betting phase--who at the New York Times ghosted this fine piece of criticism? It does not sound Kristoffian...and he would not so shallowly characterize the transfer of Taiwan to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki as "grabbed the island as war booty from China"...
The New York Times
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2006 -People everywhere wish they could be proud of every bit of their countries' histories. But honest people understand that's impossible, and wise people appreciate the positive value of acknowledging and learning from painful truths about past misdeeds. Then there is Japan's new foreign minister, Taro Aso, who has been neither honest nor wise in the inflammatory statements he has been making about Japan's disastrous era of militarism, colonialism and war crimes that culminated in World War II.
Besides offending neighboring countries that Japan needs as allies and trading partners, he is disserving the people he has been pandering to. World War II ended before most of today's Japanese were born. Yet public discourse in Japan and modern history lessons in its schools have never properly come to terms with Japan's responsibility for such terrible events as the mass kidnapping and sexual enslavement of young Korean women, the biological warfare experiments carried out on helpless prisoners of war, and the sadistic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians in the city of Nanjing.
That is why so many Asians have been angered by a string of appalling remarks Aso has made since being named foreign minister last autumn. Two of the most recent were his suggestion that Japan's emperor ought to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese war criminals are among those honored, and his claim that Taiwan owes its high educational standards to enlightened Japanese policies during the 50-year occupation that began when Tokyo grabbed the island as war booty from China in 1895. Aso's later lame efforts to clarify his words left their effect unchanged.
So who has the China itch among the otherwise Mideast-obsessed upper echelons at the Times? Any guesses, anyone?