This past week has seen one shocking comment after another from Abe-appointed members of the board of directors of Japan’s national public broadcasting network, NHK. From stating that the network should serve as a public propaganda tool of the Japanese government (in violation of NHK’s charter), to stating that sexual slavery was routine during World War II, to claiming that historical events never occurred, to praising the suicide of a nationalist—a suicide that caused Japan’s emperor to again become a ‘living god’—one has to wonder what is going on at NHK and in the Abe government. Is Abe’s reality distortion field so strong among supporters that it can withstand this public relations nightmare? Perhaps a new sport in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be Historical Denial. Countries will compete to deny atrocities, and the ‘athlete’ with the most creative denial will take home the gold.
In the clearest signal yet of U.S. unhappiness with the rightward tilt of Japan’s political leadership — and by extension, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — the U.S. embassy in Tokyo has strongly condemned charges by a top official at Japan’s national public broadcaster that Americans fabricated war crimes against Japanese leaders during World War II in order to cover up American atrocities.
“These suggestions are preposterous. We hope that people in positions of responsibility in Japan and elsewhere would seek to avoid comments that inflame tensions in the region,” an embassy spokesman told TIME early on Friday.
The charges were made this week by Naoki Hyakuta, a nationalist writer and close friend of Abe, who was recently appointed to the board of governors of the Japan Broadcasting Corp., commonly known as NHK.
In campaign speeches on behalf of a far-right candidate for the governorship of Tokyo, Hyakuta claimed that the…
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