Now I’ve read a bit this week about the “special friendship” of Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe. And I was a bit surprised by the first part of Greg Sheridan’s analysis: “TONY Abbott and Japan’s Shinzo Abe have become close friends, and more than that…close political, regional and personal allies. When they speak in private they mostly speak in English. An interpreter is always present but Abe understands everything that Abbott says and often responds in English.”
Mm, sounds positively romantic.
So, when talking about the bravery of two Japanese submariners killed in a raid on Sydney Harbour during the Second World War, Mr Abbott had this to say:
“We admired the skill and the sense of honour that they brought to their task although we disagreed with what they did. Perhaps we grasped, even then, that with a change of heart the fiercest of opponents could be the best of friends.”
Now I know that the war was a long time ago, but I suspect that not everyone who lost relatives admired the Japanese “sense of honour” at the time. However, I suspect that the passing of the years has enabled the survivors of the Burma Railway and Changi Prison, to better appreciate the skill with which the Japanese managed to extract the maximum productivity from the POWs. Perhaps also, those used by the Japanese as “comfort women” grasped that with a “change of heart” they could become the best of friends.
Yes, there’s no point in holding a grudge, because, after all, they did apologise to few of our diggers. (All right, it did take them till a couple of years ago to do it, but that’s a lot quicker than our response to the stolen generation.)
Moving on – It’s a great principle. Rather than concentrate on what was done – or perhaps, tactfully not mentioning it – admire the skill and sense of honour.
For example, instead of vilifying Jack the Ripper, I can admire his skill in not being caught. Instead of condemning Charlie Manson, I can admire his persuasive skills. Instead of growing angry at Christopher Pyne, I can admire the way he has become Education Minister with virtually no skills at all.
But there have to be limits. We have to ensure that if Tony goes to Germany, he doesn’t say that while we disagree with the Holocaust, we have to admire the efficiency with which…
No, even Tony wouldn’t go that far.
But then a week ago, I wouldn’t have expected to hear him praising Japan’s war effort to a Japanese Prime Minister who has turned his back on their tradition of pacifism since World War Two, announcing his intention to expand the military to better enable Japan to defend itself.
And thanks to this new policy, Australia may now be buying submarines from Japan.
“Australia may ask Japan for help in designing a new class of submarine or may consider buying complete submarines from Japan. Australia’s previous government had promised to build 12 submarines in Adelaide for a total cost of around $40 billion, the country’s most expensive defense project. However, the Abbott government elected in September last year may downsize that and is said to be considering other options.”
Like I said, things change. Once we were threatened by a submarine invading Sydney. Now, it appears that thanks to Japanese subs, even more workers may “liberated” from their jobs in Adelaide!
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