8/25/2015 Prime Minister Abe Runs Away from the Question: “Was Hiroshima a War Crime?”
Taro Yamamoto: It’s the People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends’ time. This is a joint representative Taro Yamamoto. Thank you so much.
Today’s question is only 17 minutes. Don’t worry Minister Nakatani, Minister Kishida. Today, it’s going to be a duel with the Prime Minister and myself. The ones in the back, please do not get in the way. I appreciate your cooperation.
A while back, 7/30/15, during a special committee meeting, we discussed that there are rules even for wars. Murdering civilians, attacks against non-military facilities and torturing prisoners of war, these are clearly against international laws. Such laws are the Geneva Conventions, international humanitarian law and so on and Japan has been a signatory nation. Our position does not allow breach of the rules.
Prime Minister, could you confirm that we will not support or cooperate with a nation that violates the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian laws?
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): It is imperative that the Self-Defense Force follows international laws and does not support actions against the international laws in their operations.
If a nation is violating international humanitarian laws such as the Geneva Conventions, we will not give support or cooperate with such actions.
Taro Yamamoto: Thank you very much.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Abe, it is intolerable that a nation, which we have decided to give support and cooperate with, would engage in war crimes such as murdering civilians repeatedly. I am sure you would agree with me on it. Could you just answer if you agree or not? Thank you.
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): If a nation violates a rule of international humanitarian law, it is certainly not our nation’s intention to support such an action, therefore the Self-Defence Force won’t be an accomplice as you pointed out.
Taro Yamamoto: Thank you very much.
Prime Minister, does that mean if the US military violates international humanitarian laws such as the Geneva Conventions, even the US military, even if it is the US military, there won’t be support or cooperation, is that right?
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): As I have stated already, it is imperative for the Self-Defense Force to follow international laws in their active duties and not to give support to actions that violate international humanitarian laws, and that will not change depending on which nation.
Taro Yamamoto: Thank you very much.
That gives me a little relief. I think I heard Prime Minister Abe’s principled idea that we will follow rules as we move forward.
So, I would like to ask the chief executive Prime Minister Abe what can be a war crime, how can it be against international law and how the line can be drawn, by what perception, by citing a few examples.
In a report by a freelance journalist, Rei Shiva, who has gone to Iraq, we see a case of a massacre of a family in Ishaqi in central Iraq. According to disclosed US military documents by WikiLeaks and reports from the area, the US military personal executed 11 residents who were handcuffed and were not resisting. This incident was reported in the area and the clip of the incident was aired in the US and Europe through BBC and CNN, however it was not aired at all in the Japanese media.
Regarding the incident, the US military claimed that they raided a civilian house in order to capture an Iraqi who was an Al Qaeda network supporter, then they were fired at, and their soldiers returned fire.
If you just hear that, you might think oh OK it was just a mop-up operation against terrorists. But the house they went into and committed murders was a house of Faiz Harat, a 28 years old elementary school teacher in the area. Among the killed were three children of Mr. Harat, a 5 month old, 3 year old and 5 year old, and 3 year old nephew and 5 year old niece were mercilessly murdered. Among the victims, there were a young couple who were visiting the house. They were engaged and they had a plan to get married the following week.
According to the local police report, the children and women’s hands were tied and they were blind folded when they were killed. Also, after murdering Mr. Faiz and others, the US soldiers bombed the house and killed their animals as well.
Prime Minister, this is a war crime, right? Isn’t it against international laws? What do you think?
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): Since I am not familiar with the case, which was just mentioned by Senator Yamamoto, I would like to refrain from commenting on it.
Taro Yamamoto: Actually, Prime Minister Abe was the Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Koizumi administration at the time of the incident. Could you just give us a general comment? The description was enough to comment on, right? They were not resisting, with their hands tied behind their back. Their heads were also covered with cloths. 11 people were killed. Including children. This situation, it’s clearly a war crime, isn’t it? It’s against international laws, right? What do you think?
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): I have no means to confirm if such action has really taken place or not, I myself, I can not confirm an action cited as an act of the US military — without confirmation I would like to refrain from commenting on it.
Taro Yamamoto: I see. There are two possibilities. You ran away. Or you really didn’t know about the incident so you could not answer. One of the two, I think.
OK, panel please.
All the pictures that we will show you today from now on are shot by a photo journalist, Ryuuichi Hirokawa.
The story I just told is not particularly unusual in Iraq. There are so many people who lost their children, family members and friends by murders committed by the US military. The US has been a habitual war criminal nation, repeatedly violating international humanitarian laws committing numerous war crimes in the name of War on Terror, Iraq war, Afghanistan war and so on.
Next panel please.
Many people in Iraq question the US bombing against civilian neighborhoods and such inhumane acts as repeated civilian murders.
Mosque, a place of worship, they bomb mosques. The US soldiers occupied a school, angered mothers and fathers of Fallujah, against the occupation with a tank parked in front of the school, organized a protest saying stop occupying a school. Against the protest, the US military launched an operation calling it a security mission. The demonstrators who were startled, they fled into houses, a few US soldiers chased after them and murdered them in the house. Day by day the protest expanded against ruthless atrocities committed by the US soldiers against actions that were taken by the democratic will of the people. Then, the soldiers started to shoot the protesters at the spot. The US soldiers piled sandbags on top of the roof of the occupied school as a sniper base to shoot the neighbors.
Then the US military embarked on a large scale operation following the operation in April of 2004. You know which one, it was the full-on attack against the city of Fallujah. They shut the media out of the city. The US military completely encircled the city. They made sure that no one could get out in order to prevent food and medical supplies to reach the city. 40 Iraqis, medical professionals, determined the situation to be dire and tried to reach Fallujah General Hospital with medical supplies from Baghdad, but 17 of the medical professionals were shot to death on the way by the US soldiers.
In November of 2004, heavy air assaults and missile attacks against the completely sealed off city of Fallujah began. Fallujah General Hospital was occupied by the US military. Two clinics in the city were bombed by the US military. The bombings continued to attack local fire fighters who were trying to extinguish the fire as well as the police officers at the location. They were said to violate the curfew.
The rule of engagement determined by the upper command around this time seemed to change daily as if changing underwear, you turn around and the rule of engagement was different. You can shoot even though the person is not attacking, if you regard the person to be suspicious. If you feel anxiety, you can shoot. If you have eye contact, you can shoot. People with Muslim attire should be regarded as hostile and can be shot. Anyone on the street should be regarded as a combatant. Anybody who is breathing should be shot.
According to one of the Marines who testified as Iraq Veterans Against the War, the US military at some point, while the bombings and air raids continued, told women and children in Fallujah to get out of the city. However they insisted that any men who are older then 14 years old were potential combatants and prohibited them to go. They forced the choice between remaining while risking their lives or to be separated from the family members. Boys over 14, the military regarded them to be capable of fighting and didn’t allow them to leave. Who would be able to leave their junior high schoolers or high schoolers where they will certainly be attacked by the US? Many of them, who couldn’t leave their boys or men, couldn’t evacuate — as a result, only small numbers of elderly women left the city.
During the first assault against Fallujah in 2004 over 700 people were murdered, the second onslaught in November killed 6 thousand people while 3 thousand people were missing. Among them, there was a boy holding a white flag.
Next image please.
Such atrocities against civilian populations, it was a prevailing reality in Iraq. This image, it is a grave yard for children. It’s been there before the war, but you can see that it is overflowing today.
Prime Minister Abe, this, things that were done by the US military, they were unmistakably against international laws, war crimes, aren’t they?
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): Although, Senator Yamamoto has spoken, right now I, I have no means to examine the content of it therefore I would like to refrain from commenting on it.
Taro Yamamoto: Former Prime Minister Koizumi, who could be considered your master, stated on November 9th, 2004 that the full-on assault against Fallujah must be successful. Prime Minister Abe, weren’t you the Chief Cabinet Secretary? Back then, Prime Minister, did you oppose the all-out attack on Fallujah? Civilians were killed over and over. Did you speak against the war crimes committed by the US military, please answer.
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): The statement that was just made by Senator Yamamoto itself could not be confirmed how factual right now, and therefore at the time of the event I could not confirm such fact.
Taro Yamamoto: I see, you don’t know if it’s a fact or not, you couldn’t confirm it, therefore it’s hard to determine. Certainly, there is something to what you are saying. But if there has been such a fact, this is unmistakably against international laws, and I think it is a war crime. OK, I understand. So, what can be an easier example of a war crime, I feel a need to consider it for the Prime Minister, so I would like to ask.
Bombing by the US military, we have gotten some as well. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and more, the great air raid over Tokyo, and all over Japan was raided, bombed. A half million people perished. And among the half million, most of them were civilians, weren’t they? Indiscriminate bombing against children, women, civilians, dropping of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki by America, and, air raids all over Japan including the great air raid of Tokyo, enormous massacre of civilians, isn’t this a war crime, isn’t this against the international law, what do you think?
Foreign Minister (Fumio Kishida): Whether the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and so on were against international law or not, that was the question.
This, such actions as these, with absolute destructive power and lethal capabilities do not coincide with the spirit of humanitarianism which is the basic concept of the international laws, that is our nation’s understanding. We also recognize that such discussions have taken place in the International Court of Justice and so on.
Taro Yamamoto: That’s really not a straight forward answer.
It is totally clear. There weren’t Geneva Conventions back then, but there certainly were Hague Conventions. Attacks against civilians as well as indiscriminate attacks were prohibited, Prime Minister. Prime Minister, you know all that. And you still refuse to answer, instead, you get the Foreign Minister to answer it for you. That’s absurd . You can’t articulate about your colonial lord. How could anyone who can’t admit the mistakes of the US military in the past judge now the actions of the US, which is a repeated offender of war crimes? From now on, if the US military commits a war crime, Prime Minister will stop the action as a chief executive of our nation, right? You can bring back the Self-Defence Force, right? Will you be alright, Prime Minister?
Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe): As I have stated already, it is imperative for the Self-Defense Force to follow international laws in their active duties and not to give support to actions that violate international humanitarian laws, and that will not change depending on which nation, and I would like to make it very clear.
Taro Yamamoto: Prime Minister, it’s been 239 years since the founding of the United States. Within that period, the US is at war 93% of the time. That’s how much the country engages in wars. The whole economy is running with wars. And Japan joins such a nation, we deliver all sorts of stuff for them, we might have delivered some to Fallujah, we might have transferred soldiers there, weapons and ammunitions too, there is no way we can check! Wasn’t Mr. Ishiwa making such a comment, back then, during the Iraqi war?
This reform bill, the War Act, will not only sacrifice lives of the Self-Defense Force, but this unification termed “logistical support” will greatly increase the possibility of making them war criminals as well. During the Iraq war, you weren’t only a key person among the cabinet members, but you also served as a Prime Minister as well. The US war crimes of massacring civilians, great civilian massacre, chemical weapons, yes, chemical weapons. As it’s mentioned, white phosphorus munitions were also used. They stormed into Iraq saying that they had weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons too, but at the end nothing was found. Of course. Seven hundred times, 500 locations for 700 times, they searched but they couldn’t find them. This is completely against the UN charters. On top of that, the US and England were the ones that used WMDs and chemical weapons. White phosphorus munitions, depleted uranium munitions, cluster bombs. While accusing Iraq of having WMDs and using chemical weapons, they were the ones who hurt Iraqis with those, weren’t they? There has to be an investigation.
I would like to say to you Prime Minister, please establish a third party investigative committee. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nation, the head of UN, is also saying that the Iraq war is illegal. That must be investigated, like the British Iraq inquiry or the one by Netherlands. It must be open with the voices of war journalists and NGO groups on the ground included. This investigative committee should be a no brainer. When you send our Self-Defense Force out, you’ve sent them already, and you have no investigation? That really can’t be. I demand establishment of a third party investigative committee. How is that Prime Minister?
Foreign Minister (Fumio Kishida): Regarding the question about our nation’s support and cooperation, our nation definitely will not support and cooperate with any actions that violate the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian laws. Furthermore, if there is any violation against international laws in an action supported by us, we do not support it. And, if we observe a violation of international laws in a part that is not directly supported by us, we would consider our reaction according to our actual assessment based on the fact, if it was a systematic action of the nation or an action of some soldiers disobeying orders, that is our basic policy.
We continue to adhere to such a policy, which represents our way of support and cooperation.
Taro Yamamoto: I asked for the Prime Minister. And surely he helped them out in the past. (some one speaks) no, it’s not time yet. Definitely not, I didn’t get the person I asked for.
I say it frankly. The Japanese Self-Defense Force is not the back up team for the US military. If we can’t affirm their past activities, we can’t expand their activities.
I demand a third party investigative committee.
I end my inquiry.