Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Hawaii Monday morning and laid a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Japan's Pearl Harbor attack. According to Japanese rhetoric, "tolerance" and "historical reconciliation" will be key words of Abe's visit and Japan wants to use this opportunity to write off its war crimes during WWII.
But it is known to all that the US is not the only victim of Japanese atrocities. Asian countries, including China, suffered much more. Although Abe may gain some political points from the West through this visit, it will not yield any substantive results if Japan glosses over China and other Asian countries in its historical issues.
Abe's visit is more of a diplomatic gesture to enhance Tokyo's alliance with Washington than bowing to history. Abe vowed that his country will not go to war, which he had uttered many times. But such a pledge is not accompanied by real actions. The Abe administration passed the new security bill which grants Japan's Self-Defense Forces more rights in overseas combat. The Japanese government is also keen on strengthening its alliance with the US so as to impose military pressure on China. Since Abe returned to office in 2012, military friction between Japan and China in the East China Sea is more likely than ever.
The US has actual military control over Japan. Whether a historical reconciliation can be reached between the two does not affect Japan-US relations much.
If Japan really wants to reconcile over historical issues, Abe chose the wrong place. He should go to China's Nanjing or Marco Polo Bridge.
It has been over 70 years since the end of WWII. The Japanese have failed to form a correct understanding of history over such a long period of time, and it seems that they hardly will. Tokyo will only play diplomatic rhetoric in historical issues when necessary.
For instance, Abe's visit to Hawaii is viewed as an attempt to enhance the Japan-US alliance before President-elect Donald Trump
takes office. Japanese officials from the foreign ministry also said the move aims to enhance deterrence against China. For Abe, historical issues are geopolitical.
The strategic gesture of the Abe administration is clear - by leaning toward the US, it is trying to take advantage of the alliance to contain China. Such a geopolitical deadlock in East Asia can hardly be broken now, and China will cope with it steadily.
China will engage in its own development and enhance its overall strength, including its national defense. Managing the strategic balance between China and the US will be the priority. A bellicose and aggressive Japan is troublesome to a rising China, but no longer the biggest headache for China's national security. Japan's attitude over war history will make us see the country clearly, but it will generate fewer impacts on Chinese society.