In praising Shinzo Abe, Marcos and Duterte insult the collective memory of the Filipino people
Ferdinand Marcos praised assassinated former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe as a “devoted friend of the Philippines” while Rodrigo Duterte called him “a true friend close to a brother.” In doing so, they both insulted the collective memory of the Filipino people, whose sufferings under the Japanese colonial forces in the 1940s, Abe had worked to erase and forget.
As prime minister, Abe sought to downplay the crimes of Japan when, in 2007, he declared that “there is no evidence of coercion” over how hundreds of thousands of comfort women were forced to work in Japanese military brothels in the Philippines, China, South Korea and other countries. He apologized in 2015 and forged a 1-billion yen deal to make South Korea “refrain from criticizing,” a deal rejected by many people.
No similar apology has been made to the Philippines because the Philippine government has never made such a demand. On the contrary, all past Philippine governments, have displayed obsequiousness to Japan. Not one stood for the Filipina comfort women, who for many years demanded compensation, until no one was left to carry on their struggle. Recall how, in 2018, after receiving an $8-billion pledge from Shinzo Abe, Duterte ordered the removal of the comfort women monument from its installation in Roxas Boulevard, fearing that it “antagonizes” Japan.
Thus, to praise Abe without recalling the suffering of the Filipino comfort women is tantamount to an attempt to erase the Filipino people’s memories of abuses and sufferings under Japanese colonialism.
The big bourgeois compradors and bureaucrat capitalists in the Philippines have always benefited from Japanese loans and investments. They are in partnership in government infrastructure projects that are financed by Japan, buys Japanese steel and construction equipment, and operated by Japanese corporations and technical experts.
After his assassination, Shinzo Abe was also praised by the US and other imperialist powers. The US, specifically, regards Abe highly for working to re-militarize Japan and for promoting a more aggressive role as a US “partner” in resisting the rise of China as an economic and military power in Asia. Abe pushed for “reinterpreting” Japan’s “peace constitution” which prohibits it from maintaining a military force, to allow its Self-Defense Force to be deployed overseas.
Japan is set to play an increasingly militarist role as the US-led imperialist camp seek to firmly establish their foothold in Asia, in an effort to force back China and stop its growth and expansion. The US is eyeing to expand NATO’s influence and country membership to Asia and will likely put Japan at the head of the line.