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Japan is moving away from goal of "normal country"

By Wang Haiqing, Wu Xia (Xinhua)

07:49, June 19, 2013

BEIJING, June 18 (Xinhua) -- For decades, Japan has been aspiring to become a "normal country" politically. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is apparently moving the country toward the opposite direction.

He has angered many people in neighboring countries and around the world with revisionist comments on Japan's war crimes during World War II.

Such remarks, in an attempt to whitewash the country's militarist past or even to deny aggression, coincided with a notable resurgence in right-wing extremism in the country.

Over the weekend, hundreds of right-wing extremists rallied in Korean Town near Tokyo's Shin-Okubo Station, waving flags of the Imperial Japanese Army and chanting explicit hate slogans.

The area, once a popular destination for Japanese fans of Korean pop culture, has been a target of right-wing extremists since February. Shop owners have been forced to close during the rallies.

It is easy to find a connection between the rise of such movements and Abe's pampering as well as the Japanese authorities's inaction to curb them.

If a similar rally took place in Europe, said the Tokyo Shinbun newspaper, the sponsors would be held legally responsible for inciting racial hatred. However, there is no such law in Japan, it commented.

After World War II, fanning racial hatred and discrimination is deemed a crime in Europe and many other countries in the world. Turning a blind eye to anti-Korean rallies in Tokyo makes it harder for Japan to be seen as a "normal country."

In a "normal country," the government will not tolerate xenophobic rallies, nor allow distortion of facts in history textbooks. Such a government will not be dubious over wartime sex slaves and will not allow its officials to pay respect to Class-A war criminals at the Yasukuni Shrine.

Abe has also been talking about revising Japan's pacifist constitution in an effort to make the Self-Defense Forces a full national army. The aim is obviously to beef up its military might, especially offensive weapons.

The many abnormal behaviors of Japan under Abe's leadership are dangerous signs and could derail its efforts to become a "normal country." Pandering to revival of militarism threatens to challenge post-war international order and take the country even further from its goal.

A nation that does not have the courage to reflect on its past will not be able to move forward. Abe has much to learn from Japan's abnormal past to define the correct steps toward a "normal country."

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