Taro Aso new Japanese prime minister

This is a video about anti G8 protests in Japan.

From Japan Today:

Aso elected LDP president

Monday 22nd September, 03:05 PM JST


Former Foreign Minister Taro Aso won the Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election Monday to succeed unpopular Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, reflecting hope in the LDP that his strong name recognition will bring victory in a House of Representatives election widely expected to be called soon.

Aso, a 68-year-old outspoken hawk who was making his fourth bid for the LDP presidency, took 351 of the 527 votes in a landslide victory, defeating his four rivals following a 12-day campaign which centered on such issues as how to shore up Japan’s flagging economy amid global financial turmoil.

Aso will be chosen as Japan’s new prime minister in parliament Wednesday, given the LDP’s majority in the lower house, which has the final say in choosing the country’s leader. …

The next prime minister will face mounting pressure to renew the LDP’s mandate by calling snap lower house elections. Speculation is rampant that the balloting could come as soon as next month.

The disarray at the top of the government is raising worries about how the country will handle its economic troubles. Inflation is up and growth has stalled, effectively ending a lengthy period of expansion. …

Koizumi’s nationalist successor, Shinzo Abe, quit after only a year amid scandals and his own health troubles. The dour Fukuda, considered at first an experienced hand, has failed to energize the party or draw voter interest.

Aso, however, is likely to make headlines from day one.

He has riled Beijing by calling China a military threat, angered Asians by claiming that Taiwan’s educational success is rooted in Japanese wartime colonial policies, and compared Japan’s opposition party to the Nazis.

Considering Mr Aso’s own defense of the Japanese World War II government, allies of Hitler, he himself appears to be rather closer to the nazis.

By the way, “Aso” in the Dutch language is an abbreviation of “anti social person”.

According to Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad (translated):

Aso studied economics and led the family corporation Aso Cement and other corporations, before becoming a politician in 1979, with a career in the LDP in parliament and various government posts.

This business has a remarkable wartime past. In the mines of Aso Cement during World War II, three hundred allied prisoners of war are said to have worked, including Dutch people. Apologies for this have never been made.

Taro Aso: third Japanese prime minister in two years: here.

Japan’s deputy PM blames women for nation’s falling population. Anger after Taro Aso appears to say women not giving birth are the ‘problem’: here.

WWII Apologists Persist Despite Japanese Policy: here.

Communism in Japan: here.

20 thoughts on “Taro Aso new Japanese prime minister

  1. Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008

    WWII forced labor issue dogs Aso, Japanese firms

    Special to The Japan Times

    After evading the issue for more than two years, Taro Aso conceded to foreign reporters on the eve of becoming prime minister that Allied POWs worked at his family’s coal mine in Kyushu during World War II.

    Labor pains: Prime Minister Taro Aso was president of Aso Cement Co., the successor firm to Aso Mining, in the 1970s. Hundreds of Allied POWs and thousands of Koreans conscripts were forced to work for the firm during the war. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO

    But Aso’s terse admission fell far short of the apology overseas veterans’ groups have demanded, while refocusing attention on Japan’s unhealed legacy of wartime forced labor by Asians and Westerners.

    Calls for forced labor reparations are growing louder due to Prime Minister Aso’s personal ties to the brutal practice, as well as his combative reputation as a historical revisionist. The New York Times recently referred to “nostalgic fantasies about Japan’s ugly past for which Mr. Aso has become well known.” Reuters ran an article headlined “Japan’s PM haunted by family’s wartime past.”

    Three hundred Allied prisoners of war (197 Australians, 101 British and two Dutch) were forced to dig coal without pay for Aso Mining Co. in 1945. Some 10,000 Korean labor conscripts worked under severe conditions in the company’s mines between 1939 and 1945; many died and most were never properly paid.

    Taro Aso was president of Aso Cement Co., the successor firm to Aso Mining, during the 1970s and oversaw publication of a 1,000-page corporate history that omitted all mention of Allied POWs. Aso’s father headed Aso Mining during the war. The family’s business empire is known as Aso Group today and is run by Aso’s younger brother, with the prime minister’s wife serving on the board of directors. The company has never commented on the POW issue, nor provided information about Aso Mining’s Korean workforce despite requests from the South Korean government.

    Newspapers in Australia and the United Kingdom vigorously reported Aso Mining’s use of POWs in 2006. But with Aso then at its helm, Japan’s Foreign Ministry cast doubt on the overseas media accounts and challenged journalists to provide evidence.

    Last year The Japan Times described how, in early 1946, the Japanese government presented Allied war crimes investigators with the Aso Company Report, detailing living and working conditions for the 300 prisoners. Yet Foreign Minister Aso continued to sidestep the POW controversy even after his office was provided with a copy of the report, which is written on Aso Mining stationery and bears company seals.

    Courts in Japan and former Allied nations have rejected legal claims by ex-POWs, so the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway have all compensated their own surviving POWs. Hundreds of British and Dutch POWs and family members have made reconciliation-style visits to Japan in recent years as part of the Tokyo-sponsored Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative. Stiffed by the U.S. government, American POWs have also been excluded from Japan’s reconciliation schemes — a situation they say Prime Minister Aso has a special responsibility to correct.

    Some 700,000 Korean civilians — including teenage girls — were brought to Japan to work for private firms through various means of coercion. Hundreds of thousands of other Koreans were forced to perform harsh labor elsewhere in Japan’s empire or conscripted into the Japanese military.

    South Korea’s 85-member Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization Under Japanese Imperialism began work in 2005. Legislation passed last year will provide national payments of up to $20,000 to former military and civilian conscripts and family members. The measure also calls for individually tailored compensation based on unpaid wages, pension contributions and related benefits owed to Korean workers but now held by the Bank of Japan.

    Seoul needs Japanese cooperation in the form of name rosters and details about the BOJ financial deposits in order to fully implement its compensation plan. Repatriating the hundreds of sets of Korean remains currently stored in Japan, many of them belonging to military and civilian conscripts killed during the war, is another key aim of ongoing reparations work. Company records would greatly aid the process of identifying remains that have been located in temples and municipal charnel houses around the country.

    The Japanese government has been cooperating fitfully on “humanitarian grounds” in the case of military conscription, supplying Korean officials with some wartime records and returning the remains of 101 Korean soldiers to Seoul last January. But the Japanese side is mostly stonewalling on civilian conscripts like those at Aso Mining.

    Japanese officials contend, rather implausibly, that they do not know how many Korean civilians were conscripted or how many died in the custody of private companies because the state was never directly involved. South Korea’s truth commission criticized Aso Group and Foreign Minister Aso in 2005 for failing to supply information.

    “I have no intention to explain,” Japan’s chief diplomat told a Japanese reporter at the time. Earlier this month, Diet member Shokichi Kina asked Prime Minister Aso whether any data about Aso Mining was ever given to South Korea. Aso replied that his administration will not disclose how individual corporations have responded to Korean inquiries.

    Noriaki Fukudome of the Truth-Seeking Network for Forced Mobilization, a citizens group based in Fukuoka, has been centrally involved in advancing the South Korean truth commission’s work within Japan.

    Aso Group, says Fukudome, “has an obligation to actively cooperate with returning remains and providing records because it was one of the companies that employed the most forced laborers. But Japanese companies are keeping a lid on the whole forced labor issue. In the unlikely event that Prime Minister Aso was to direct Aso Cement (now Aso Lafarge Cement since its merger with a French conglomerate) to actively face the forced labor problem, it would have a huge effect on all Japanese companies.”

    Fukudome pointed to Japan’s conformist corporate culture as one reason why very few of the hundreds of companies that used Asians and Allied POWs for forced labor have taken steps toward reconciliation. “Even if one company has a relatively positive attitude regarding reparations, it will not take action out of deference for other companies,” he said.

    Chinese were the victims of the third class of forced labor in Japan. While Aso Mining was not involved in Chinese forced labor, lack of progress for the especially compelling redress claim highlights Japan’s weak commitment to settling wartime accounts.

    Postwar records secretly compiled — and then purposely destroyed — by the Japanese government and 35 companies state that 38,935 Chinese males between the ages of 11 and 78 were brought to Japan between 1943 and 1945. More than one out of six died.

    Japan’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the 1972 treaty that restored ties between Japan and China bars Chinese forced labor survivors from filing legal claims. Yet the court found that plaintiffs had been forcibly transported to Japan and forced to toil in wretched conditions, and suggested they be redressed through non-judicial means. Having previously declared that the “slave-like forced labor was an outrage against humanity,” the Fukuoka High Court earlier this month similarly urged “voluntary measures” to remedy the injustice.

    Kajima Corp., one of the world’s largest construction companies, set up a “relief fund” in 2000 to compensate survivors of its Hanaoka work site, where 418 out of 986 Chinese perished and an uprising took place. The move prompted expectations that Japan’s industrial sector and central government might establish a redress fund for all its victims of forced labor, similar to the “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future” Foundation enacted in Germany that same year. The $6 billion German fund eventually compensated 1.6 million forced labor victims or their heirs.

    Such hopes for corporate social responsibility in Japan were dashed. On the contrary, Mitsubishi Materials Corp. defended itself in a Fukuoka courtroom in 2005 by rejecting facts about Chinese forced labor routinely recognized by Japan’s judiciary and insisting only voluntary workers were used — despite death rates of up to 31 percent at its Kyushu mines. Mitsubishi openly questioned whether Japan ever “invaded” China at all and warned judges that compensating the elderly Chinese plaintiffs would saddle Japan with a “mistaken burden of the soul” for hundreds of years.

    Taro Aso, in fact, is not the Japanese prime minister most closely connected to forced labor. Wartime Cabinet minister Nobusuke Kishi was in charge of the empire’s labor programs and was later imprisoned for three years as a Class A war crimes suspect. Kishi went on to become a founder of the Liberal Democratic Party in 1955 and Japan’s premier from 1957-60. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is Kishi’s grandson.

    Foreign Ministry files declassified in 2002 revealed that Kishi’s administration conspired to deceive the Diet and citizens’ groups about the state’s possession of Chinese forced labor records. Kishi’s intent was to block Japanese activists from returning remains to China and publicizing the program’s true nature, as well as to head off state reparations demands from Beijing. In 2003, the Foreign Ministry searched a basement storeroom and found 20,000 pages of Chinese forced labor records submitted by companies in 1946, despite decades of denials that such records existed.

    Millions of Asians performed forced labor outside of Japan during the Asia Pacific War, very often for the benefit of Japanese companies still operating today. The so-called comfort women represent a uniquely abused group of war victims forced to provide sex for Japan’s military. Last year governments in North America and Europe urged Japan to do more to right the egregious comfort-women wrong.

    The Dutch foreign minister renewed that call last week, prior to a visit to Japan set to include a stop at the Commonwealth War Cemetery where hundreds of Allied POWs are buried, including two Australians who died at Aso Mining.

    Days after assuming Japan’s top post, Aso apologized “for my past careless remarks” in a speech before Parliament. “From now on,” he pledged, “I will make statements while bearing in mind the gravity of the words of a prime minister.” Many are waiting for the words “I’m sorry” for forced labor.

    William Underwood completed his doctoral dissertation at Kyushu University on forced labor in wartime Japan. His past research is available at http://www.japanfocus.org and he can be reached at kyushubill@yahoo.com. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp



  2. Ex-vice defense minister jailed for taking bribes

    Wednesday 05th November, 10:49 AM JST

    TOKYO —

    Former Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya was sentenced to two years and six months in prison without suspension Wednesday at the Tokyo District Court for bribe-taking and other charges.

    Moriya, 64, who was accused of taking bribes worth some 12.5 million yen from a defense equipment trader while he was in the post from 2003 to 2007 and giving false parliamentary testimony under oath in 2007, was also ordered to pay penalties of about 12.5 million yen for taking roughly the same amount of money in bribes. Moriya immediately appealed the ruling.

    © 2008 Kyodo News.


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  9. I am not sure if Japan is suffering from trade and finance borrowing and debt, Japan seems resourceful, if they have been set up it is not surprising Japan would feel that way inclined about Hitler.


    • Wikipedia says about Japan’s debt:

      In 2011 Japan’s public debt was about 230 percent of its annual gross domestic product,[1] the largest percentage of any nation in the world. In numbers, the public debt of Japan was $13.64 trillion, only second to the United States.


      However, a bigger problem now is they have a very Right wing militarist government, which wants to change the pro-peace Japanese constitution by, it seems, undemocratic means. This might lead to war against China, Korea, etc. Fortunately, there is pro-peace opposition in Japan.


      • If they kept to a peace plan how would they pay the debt off? I note with Germany although they lost WW2, so called, did they have whats called the Marshall plan? that assisted them out of debt? if we turn to Britain who won the war?? were as I was their, rationing went on to what 1957? to pay America for war assistance? not that we may of terminated a threat to America, had the British gone down to Germany, which a few different decisions of Hitler could have happened.
        I note the gold reserves of Germany are very high indicating that not only trade is well but if the gold sector is doing well, it would seem war is profitable for some.
        I do not know why I want to say this to you as it has no bearing on this article, I recently purchased a jar of organic labeled peanut butter from my local shop here in Daylesford, what depressed me was the peanuts were grown in South America and transported to New Zealand, where they were processed in to peanut butter, then transported to Australia, and then purchased as a jar by me, considering we grow peanuts here, also would the organic be checked for authenticity here, what is happening today and has for my own lifetime is peculiar to say the least.


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