Japan’s new defence minister swerves questions on war crimes

Tomomi Inada: Actions of Japanese troops in second World War depends on ‘point of view’

Japan's new defence minister, who is known for her revisionist views of Japan's wartime actions, has declined to say whether the country liberated or invaded Asian states before the second World War or whether Japanese troops massacred civilians in China.

"Whether you would describe Japan's actions as an invasion depends on one's point of view," said Tomomi Inada. Ms Inada has called for a revamp of Japan's war-renouncing constitution to ease the constraints on the military operating overseas and has been a regular visitor to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine for war dead that neighbouring states consider a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Visits to the shrine by political leaders infuriate China and South Korea.

When asked on Wednesday if she would visit it again ahead of the August 15th anniversary of Japan's surrender in 1945, Ms Inada declined to comment. Her predecessor at the ministry, Gen Nakatani, stayed away during his term.

Atrocities

Ms Inada, who was a lawyer before entering politics in 2005, is known for a revisionist view of the second World War that downplays or denies atrocities by Japanese troops and characterises its aggression as an act of liberation against colonial powers.

She has also questioned whether Japan forced women from Korea and other countries into military brothels. In 2007 she supported a full-page announcement in the Washington Post that the women had worked as licensed prostitutes.

When asked at the briefing if her view on the issue had changed, Ms Inada declined to comment.

Ms Inada, previously Liberal Democratic Party policy chief, was one of three politicians reportedly denied entry into South Korea in 2011 because they planned to visit islands that both countries claim.

– (Reuters)