U.S. vice president Joe Biden has recently inadvertently blemished the Japanese national honor by making a remark which only aroused past, bitter memories ever since the end of WW II.
On Monday, Biden took aim at comments by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that Japan might need to join the world’s nuclear club to defend itself instead of relying upon America to defend the island nation.
During an interview in April, Trump was talking about America’s defense commitments when he told Chris Wallace of Fox News, “So, North Korea has nukes. Japan has a problem with that. I mean, they have a big problem with that. Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves form North Korea.”
Wallace then asked, “With nukes?”
“Including with nukes, yes, including with nukes,” Trump responded.
However when Biden tried to attack Trump, Japan’s sensitivities became collateral damage.
“Does he not understand we wrote Japan’s Constitution to say that they could not be a nuclear power?” Biden said.
Rubbing Japanese noses in the fact that Japan was once so humbled by America that a foreign power wrote its constitution did not go over well in Japan itself, at a time when nationalist sentiment is focused on revisions to the document.
A popular column in the national Asahi newspaper attacked the comment.
“Amid the trading of insults between the opposing camps on the U.S. presidential campaign trail, a remark made by Vice President Joe Biden on Aug. 15 was quite rough around the edges,” said the Vox Populi (Voice of the People) column.
“As a statement made by a sitting vice president of the United States, it was unprecedented in its ‘insensitivity,’” the column noted. “Biden’s remark in Pennsylvania, made as if in deliberate disregard of postwar historical reality, could even be considered arrogant.”
Japanese journalist and author Hiro Aida said the timing of Biden’s remark makes it seem particularly insensitive, considering the ruling party under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering revising the country’s constitution.
“We thought only Trump was an insensitive guy,” said Aida, who recently published a book in Japan on the Trump phenomenon. Biden “kind of misspoke. This is not something he should talk openly about in public.”
Japan’s 1947 constitution was initially developed by the Japanese, then extensively redrafted by American occupiers, then finalized by Japanese reviewers prior to adoption.
There’s no particular reference by the Japanese legislation of nuclear weapons, even though it mentions that Japan concurs to “renounce war.”