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Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008

Tamogami says views shared in Diet, SDF


Staff writer

Ousted Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Gen. Toshio Tamogami stuck to his revisionist historical views Monday, saying his justification of Japan's wartime acts is shared by many lawmakers and Self-Defense Forces personnel.

News photo
I see it my way: Former Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff Toshio Tamogami speaks Monday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo. KYODO PHOTO

"I don't think my opinions are particularly militaristic or of a rightwing nature," Tamogami said during a news conference in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, adding many of his supporters are merely keeping their views to themselves.

Tamogami was sacked as ASDF chief Oct. 31 after winning an essay contest with an entry that defended the nation's wartime past and colonial rule.

He upheld his revisionist views during unsworn testimony before an Upper House committee last month, maintaining his opinion that Japan was not an "aggressor nation" during the 1930s and '40s.

"Freedom of speech in the SDF is being suppressed, but there are many who support" such views, Tamogami said.

The now-retired general criticized the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force, on Monday, saying the DPJ is wrongfully blaming the government for allowing someone with views like his to head the ASDF.

"The DPJ is demanding that a person who speaks ill of Japan (by being apologetic about the war) should lead (the ASDF). That is absurd."

In explaining the backdrop of the essay, Tamogami said Japan cannot protect its allies without engaging in collective self-defense and must enact a special law to allow the SDF to contribute to international antiterrorism campaigns such as the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

"This all stems from an erroneous history education" that taught that Japan was an aggressor, he said, reiterating his view that the government must get back on track and again become capable of defending the nation.

While the essay accuses the United States of "trapping" Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor, Tamogami told the press briefing that he does not intend to criticize Washington for past acts.

"I don't have any antipathy toward America. I like America very much," he joked.

"I am being touted as a dangerous figure, but it only takes five minutes with me for anyone to understand that I am kind-hearted."

But asked how he would have acted when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Tamogami said he would have retaliated in kind had Japan had that capability.

The unapologetic ex-general did acknowledge he blundered, saying he never expected his essay to cause such a Diet or media stir.

"Some say I was a fool for misjudging that," he said. "I have to acknowledge that I am."



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