Geopolitics

The Woman Who May Succeed Shinzo Abe In Japan

Tomomi Inada may be a more fervent Japanese nationalist than current Prime Minister Abe. She was in Washington this week to meet top officials.

Inada has risen quickly through the ranks.
Inada has risen quickly through the ranks.

TOKYO â€" During her visit to the United States this week, Tomomi Inada has had a packed agenda with top American officials.

The trip by the 56-year-old head of the the Policy Research Council of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is also the first visit to Washington by a government or ruling party official since the passage of the security-related laws that could allow Japan's military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II.

With Inada's visit coming at a time certain to draw attention, some within the LDP have speculated that she has begun thinking about running for the leadership of the party after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe"s current term ends.

The people Inada on this week's agenda have included David Shear, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs; former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Inada gave particular importance in her itinerary to the address on Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. To give the speech in English, a language she is not fluent in, Inada was tutored by a U.S. instructor and was intensively practicing her pronunciation and other elements even while traveling in her car.

"I'll seek understanding for the Abe Cabinet's security policies, as well as for its economic policies, about which there is high interest in the United States," Inada said before the speech.

Inada holds similar opinions to Abe and has been treated especially warmly, being awarded such posts as state minister in charge of administrative reform in Abe's Cabinet and head of the LDP Policy Research Council.

Members of the Hosoda faction, to which Inada belongs, have started to say she is a future candidate for prime minister and even Inada herself has recently begun making such public statements as "All politicians want to be prime minister."

However, there is also rising envy within the LDP of Inada, who has been elected only four times as a House of Representatives member, but already served as a cabinet minister and in one of the top three posts in the party.

One veteran LDP lawmaker spoke coolly of her current trip, saying: "Ms. Inada is viewed in the United States as a historical revisionist. If she can't dispel these concerns, her "post-Abe" opportunity will fade away."

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ