According to the press reports, the prime minister's speech to the assembled air personnel and staff focused on the recovery of the Tohoku region from the natural disasters (Link).
However, the non-verbal message was one of avid support (the thumb points up) for the SDF playing a greater role in Japan's policy mix.
It seems that Abe Shinzo does not accept that part of his job is to disabuse Chinese commentators of the notion that Japan is an emerging security threat.
To be fair, which no one will be, the jet in question is not an actual weapons platform. It is a T-4 trainer used for aerobatic shows. True also that on his visit yesterday to the Tohoku region the PM donned coveralls, mounted a tractor and transplanted rice seedlings (Link), meaning that not all his costume changes have been ones into military garb. (Link - J)
Nevertheless, coming so soon after his photo-op at the Nico Nico Douga event -- where of all the exhibits, he had to go for the one with the SDF tank in it -- the decidedly more kakko ii photo of a decidedly cheerful Abe in the cockpit of a military jet sends all the right (domestic politics) and wrong (East Asian politics) signals.
Then again, with Takaichi Sanae as his wingman...
Japan ruling party executive to keep visiting war shrine(Link)
Channel News Asia
TOKYO - The policy chief of Japan's ruling party vowed Sunday to keep paying homage at a controversial war shrine despite anger and diplomatic protests by China and South Korea.
Nearly 170 Japanese lawmakers made a pilgrimage last month to the Yasukuni Shrine, a flashpoint in a bitter dispute between Japan and Asian neighbours which were victims of its 20th century militarism.
For foreign critics, the shrine is a stark reminder of Tokyo's brutal occupation of the Korean peninsula and imperialist expansion leading up to World War II. Among the 2.5 million honoured there are 14 men convicted of war crimes by a US-led tribunal after Japan's 1945 surrender.
Sanae Takaichi, who heads the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's policy affairs council, was one of the senior lawmakers who joined the April visit and on Sunday defended the practice.
Takaichi also voiced doubt about a 1995 landmark statement Japan issued under then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, which acknowledged it followed "a mistaken national policy" and advanced along the road to war.
"There is no doubt that (Japan) hurt the ethnic pride of people in colonised countries and caused them tremendous sufferings," Takaichi said.
"But the Murayama statement mentions 'a mistaken national policy'.
"Then, would it have been best for Japan not to fight (major western powers) at all and to take the path of becoming a colony amid embargoes?" she asked.
"I think no politician in today's Japan can tell us with confidence what was right in the international situation at that time," she said....
...who needs signals?
Later - A thanks to James for catching the date error.
Image courtesy: The Yomiuri Shimbun (Link)