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When Japan Speaks Out, the World Listens





Veteran journalist Yoshihisa Komori, The Sankei Shimbun’s associate correspondent in Washington, D.C., urged Japanese to speak out and deliver Japan’s views to the world, citing significant gains when both government and the private sector do so.


“The positive effects of Japan expressing its own views to the rest of the world without fear have been demonstrated in recent years,” said Komori, who is also a senior advisor to JAPAN Forward.


JAPAN Forward marked its second anniversary with a lecture and dialogue on June 4.


One outcome of Japan speaking out cited by Komori was the government’s rebuttal of the anti-Japanese campaign launched worldwide by China in August 2015. China had initiated an international propaganda campaign, “70th anniversary of China’s war victory,” bashing contemporary Japan by bringing up Japan’s wartime past.


According to Komori, that month Chinese ambassadors in Washington, D.C., New York, and London contributed articles and managed to have them published by mainstream newspapers around the same time. They made false claims such as, “The government of Shinzo Abe promotes evil militarism,” “Japan again conspiring on external invasion,” and, “Japan secretly intends to develop nuclear weapons.”


Breaking a longstanding custom of not reacting to accusations of this kind even when they are obviously false, Japanese ambassadors in the United States and Britain immediately managed to have their own respective articles published refuting the Chinese claims.


Mr. Komori recounted that soon after “the British journal Economist published feature articles on the theme that China is demonizing contemporary Japan,’ thus providing an international assessment independently supporting the Japanese rebuttal.”


This, he emphasized, was one of the positive effects of Japan’s immediate and strong expression of its views to the outside world.


Mr. Komori also mentioned the example of the mother of Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota. Sakie Yokota met with U.S. President George W. Bush when she visited Washington in 2006 in an appeal for U.S. help in freeing the victims of North Korean abduction.


Mr. Bush, as a consequence, continued talking about how moved he had been by directly listening to Sakie’s words, even after leaving office. That the American president continued to mention the case significantly helped to raise awareness of the seriousness of the Japanese abductions issue within the U.S. government as a whole.


Author: JAPAN Forward