Perhaps the highest honor the United States can confer on a foreign dignitary is to invite him or her to address both houses of Congress. Invitees join an exclusive club that has included such esteemed figures as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Yitzhak Rabin, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, and Corazon Aquino.
Now the currency is being debased. In a move that is hard to credit, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to give an address on April 29. Abe is the first Japanese Prime Minister to be accorded the honor – yet, arguably of all Japan’s Prime Ministers since 1945, he is the least deserving. Where obloquy is concerned, his only rival is his grandfather, the accused Class A war criminal Nobusuke Kishi, who served as Prime Minister in the late 1950s.
Among other things Abe has at times suggested that the Imperial Japanese Army’s sex slaves – generally known by the euphemism “comfort women” – were common prostitutes. A mountain of evidence indicates otherwise. There is, for instance, the testimony of Dutch housewives captured in the Netherlands East Indies who were forced into sexual servitude in the early 1940s. So far as I am aware, their evidence has never been challenged even by the most fanatical Japanese rightists.
Abe has at times conducted an almost sadistic exercise in double talk. Sometimes he seems to acknowledge the extent of the atrocities and to be duly regretful. At other times he seems to want to ”unapologize” — to take back, at least in part, previous leaders’ apologies. This latter attitude appears like an Orwellian insult to millions of people – Asians, Americans, Western Europeans, and Russians – who either suffered directly from such atrocities or whose parents or other relatives did.
For links illustrating Abe’s Jekyll and Hyde bifurcation click here , here, and here. In the first and second links we have the unreconstructed atrocity denier. In the third we have an apparently contrite Abe. But, closely read, this link raises further questions, as is pointed out here.
What explains Boehner’s decision? Money. Congress now runs ever more explicitly on money – and few nations are more generous than Japan in unloading greenbacks on any American politician whose agenda suits the island empire.
Of course, it is technically illegal for foreigners to fund American politics – but that is the flimsiest of fig-leaves. Any foreign corporation can perfectly legally funnel money into American politics via a U.S. subsidiary. With huge investments in the U.S. automotive and electronics industries, corporate Japan is uniquely well placed to influence Congress. Moreover few if any nations’ corporations are more effective in coordinating their lobbying to maximize its impact.
But what does Japan want? Principally it wants Congress to approve the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (the TPP). The TPP is yet another one-sided free trade deal that is expected to be highly effective in promoting East Asian exports to the United States. Meanwhile, all rhetoric to the contrary, it will offer few opportunities for American exporters to sell in East Asia. Basically Japan wants Boehner’s help in perpetuating the system of one-way free trade it has consistently pursued since the latter decades of the nineteenth century. All the evidence is that a pandering Boehner will deliver.