IN OTHER WORDS : Abe’s task

If Japan’s new PM, Shinzo Abe, hopes to be as popular and successful as his departing predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, he needs to be equally daring in breaking with failed policies of the past.

The obvious place to start is by rebuilding Japan’s badly damaged relations with China. Nothing is more important to Japan’s prosperity and security than normal relations with its giant neighbour.

An ugly, but increasingly distant, history of Japanese aggression and war crimes stands in the way. Koizumi, in one of the greatest errors of his administration, deliberately glorified this history, playing into the hands of Chinese leaders who often use nationalism to distract their people from official corruption and political repression.

The first step should be to declare that he will not continue Koizumi’s provocative practice of visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, where the spirits of convicted war criminals are honoured.

Japan has a great deal to be proud of, including an increasingly vital democracy, a revived economy and the difficult but necessary economic reforms that Koizumi began to

push through and that Abe will now need to take further. It does not need to glorify the darkest period of its recent history and the war criminals most responsible for that terrible aberration. — The New York Times