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Japan PM Visit to Yasukuni Shrine Slammed by China, Stealth Responses

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 8 -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine was the subject of a call on January 2 from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

  Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson's office for a read-out of the call, but was told it would not be forthcoming. 

 (The new Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info has now demanded in short and long form that in 2014 Ban's spokesperson's office either provide read-outs of calls to heads of state or explain why: click here for that. The old United Nations Correspondents Association, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance, has made no request for that.)

  On January 8, China's Permanent Representative to the UN Liu Jieyi came to the Security Council stakeout and spoke at length about Abe's visit, on camera and for all to see.  Here is a transcription, followed by the question: if Japanese mission to the UN had a response, why not deliver it in the same public way? Why provide it only to some reporters, or to a group that does not represent all UN "resident correspondents"?

  Ambassador Liu Jieyi said:

The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, blatantly paid homage to Yasukuni shrine, which is a place where 14 Class A war criminals and other war criminals from WWII are enshrined. It is also a place that whitewashes and glorifies oppression and truncates a militarist outlook of history. It is the incarnation of militarism of Japan and also a spiritual tool to wage wars of aggression against other countries. So, we can see clearly that an act of paying homage to such a place housing the symbols of Class A war criminals and other criminals as a blatant affront to international justice, a blatant affront to human conscience and a blatant affront to the post WWII international order, based on the victory against Fascist aggressors in WWII and also based on the very principles and purposes of the UN charter. The outrage and indignation by government and people of China, and indeed governments and people in the wider international community testifies to the gravity of situation.

The UN was founded on debris of WWII and the principles and purposes of UN charter are very clear: It is an organization that is dedicated in saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which has brought untold sorrow to mankind. The Class A war criminals enshrined in the Yasukuni shrine were part and parcel of the scourge that has been brought onto mankind in WWII. They were part and parcel of the massacre inflicted on Chinese people and people of other countries in the most cold-blooded way. To pay homage to such a place where war criminals are enshrined is a fundamental question bearing on the charter of UN. It is a dangerous distortion of the right and wrong; it is a dangerous distortion of what is aggression and what is peace loving; t is also a stand on the wrong side of history. So it all boils down to whether a leader of a country should stand on the side of maintaining the principles and purposes of the charter of the UN or to side with war criminals that were prosecuted by the war tribunal in the far east.

The UN charter also provides that is is an org of peace loving countries that accept the obligations of the charter, so the question inevitably arises as to what Abe is up to, where does he intend to take his country? We cannot allow anyone to turn back the wheel of history and to negate the victory of WWII and to undermine the very basis on which this organization is founded. The victory of WWII against Fascists and the post war international order have been achieved at the cost of million of lives. The international community should remain vigilant and issue a warning to the fact that Abe must correct his erroneous outlook of history. He must correct his mistakes, and he must not slip further down the wrong path, and it is the duty of the international community to safeguard by working together the principles and purposes of the charter, and to avoid any recurrence of any erroneous attitude that might take a country down a very dangerous path.

   Again, if the Japanese mission has a response, why not issue it similarly publicly, and not to a partial organization, which often functions as Ban's UN Censorship Alliance, having tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, for example, and demanding the first question only to often toss up only a softball?

  Back on January 2, Ban "discussed the situation in North Korea, regional tensions over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a controversial war shrine and other issues of common interest, her office said."

  What were these other "issues of common interest"?  More than four hours after Park's office went public about the call, the UN through Ban's spokespeople or otherwise, has provided no information. This is a pattern.

  As 2013 ended at the UN, the question arose why Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement on tensions between Japan and Ban's native South Korea (and China) was given to regional media before the Press which had formally asked a question, and why Ban's spokesperson has been deflecting questions since.

The answer, proposed exclusively to Inner City Press by well-placed sources in South Korea, involves Ban Ki-moon being in a poll for the country's 2017 presidential election, as a candidate of incumbent Park's faction of the ruling Saenuri party. Click here for story on that polling, in Korean.

Last week, Inner City Press asked Ban's two top spokespeople:

"on South Sudan, in light of the SG's response at his last stakeout, please provide his / the UN's response to the subsequent report that

'The Korean side is now accusing the Japanese of politically using the emergency faced by Korean troops in South Sudan, with one unnamed official saying that the Abe government’s linking of the ammo supply to its 'active pacifism' initiative was a 'clear political provocation.' Another unnamed official said Korea had told the Japanese to handle this quietly out of fear that the locals would turn hostile and attack Korean troops if word got out that they’d received ammo, but the Japanese were instead turning this into a big story. Korean government officials are also saying that they intend to return all the ammo to Japan once Korean ammo arrives from Korea, despite the fact that the Japanese said they could keep it.'"

But the spokesperson, Martin Nesirky and Farhan Haq, never answered this question, or even acknowledged receiving it.

  While later a "Note to Correspondent" about Ban's position was sent out, and Inner City Press reported on it, it turned out that the very same Ban position had been given out to regional media 13 hours before. This practice is being opposed in 2014 by the Free UN Coalition for Access, whatever the motives of the practice.

  But here, as also illuminated by Ban spokesperson Nesirky's push-back at questions from Chinese media on December 30, and December 31 responding to Inner City Press' factual question about whether UNMISS had been contacted by the South Koreans before the South Koreans contacted Japan (and also about UNMISS' relationship with the American military or bullet-holders), there may be more.

  December 31 Q&A video here, and embedded below.

The theory, made composite from Inner City Press' South Korean sources, goes like this:

"South Korean peace keepers receive artillery fire from hostile forces -> SK field commanders immediately request ammunition shipment from Japanese peace keepers in the vicinity -> Japanese cabinet convenes an emergency meeting to approve the shipment -> shipment goes to SK -> upon media scrutiny (as this could mark a landmark shift in Japan's overseas defense activity), SK denies making a direct request to Japan and claims that it was made through UN (UNMISS) -> Japan refutes and even releases a clip from video conf between SK and JP units to prove its point -> UN supports SK's claim -> SK explains that the decision was made by field commanders... To put it succinctly [according to this theory]: Ban is potentially giving political cover for the Park administration by insisting on UN's role in the process."

So why didn't Ban's spokesperson answer Inner City Press' initial written question last week, or Inner City Press' in-person December 31 question? Such stonewalling only gives rise to more questions, or as here, theories. Or, when will it and the other so far ignored questions be answered? Watch this site.

Footnote: as context for most other than Chinese media on December 30 not pursuing this, consider that the insider United Nations Correspondents Association has accepted a large Samsung television, which was being installed on December 31.

 UNCA's 2013 and 2014 president Pamela Falk claimed that the TV does not involve any mission. But even the UN, when asked by Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access, admitted that the TV equipment went from Samsung to South Korea's Mission to the UN to the UN and then to UNCA: it involved the South Korean mission and government. We'll have more on this. 
[January 2 update, and e-mail from "UNCA Office, here.]

Update: after 5:50 pm on New Years Eve the UN provided the responses below, which we publish just after 6 pm on December 31:

Subject: Your questions at noon on South Sudan
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 5:52 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question at noon today on Pariang, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has provided the following information from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS):

As of 31 December, UNMISS has 120 troops in its base in Pariang. The Mission reports it has no evidence that Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) elements are involved in the conflict in South Sudan.

On your question on the provision of ammunition to the South Korean engineering corps in UNMISS, this was a bilateral arrangement between two Member States. We suggest you direct your question to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea. In terms of the UNMISS role, the Mission transported the ammunition to the South Korean troops in Bor. The US is a troop contributor to UNMISS; it contributes five military personnel to the Mission.


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