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June 28, 2017

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Is Japan on the road to becoming militaristic again?

Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took part in a ceremony marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, an event which, combined with the following atomic bombing of Nagasaki, compelled Japan to surrender nine days later on Aug. 15, ending the Second World War.

Also on Tuesday last week, Japan launched its largest warship since the war. The vessel was launched at Yokohama, where Commodore Mathew Perry came with his U.S. Asiatic fleet in 1853 to open Japan to the West. The 250-meter-long Izumo looks like an aircraft carrier, though officially it is a destroyer. Well, it's a flat-top super-destroyer that carries 14 helicopters with a flight deck where combat aircraft that can vertically take off and land can be accommodated. The new vessel shares the same name as the famed Japanese cruiser which played a pivotal part in the Shanghai War of 1937, withstanding repeated Chinese attacks.

In May, Abe offended China and South Korea by tacitly denying Japan's imperialist aggression toward its Asian neighbors. The Japanese leader stated that there is no established definition of invasion, either academically or internationally.

Around the same time, he posed for a photo in the cockpit of a military training jet fighter emblazoned with the number 731, the unit number of an infamous Imperial Army group that conducted lethal chemical and biological wartime experiments on Chinese civilians. Moreover, Abe has reportedly moved to permit the use of the rising sun banner, a symbol of horror to Asian victims of Japanese colonial aggression.

On top of all this, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, buoyed by its landslide victory in the elections of the Upper House of the Diet, is planning to send practically all its parliamentarians on Thursday to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo to pay homage to the war dead, including General Hideki Tojo and other Class A war criminals. Plans are afoot to revise Japan's postwar peace constitution to assert its right to declare war and rename the self-defense forces as the national "defense forces," the dropping of "self-defense" implying the forces may be engaged in action other than genuine self-defense.

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