Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Letter of the week: Why we should fear Japan

Rana Mitter’s essay on the impact of Japanese Second World War atrocities (“The new remembering”, 26 July) is a welcome reminder of imperial Japan’s role as one of the three main aggressors, with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. No matter the enormity of the atrocities by Stalin, the suffering of the former Soviet Union and the Soviet role in the defeat of Nazi Germany have always been recognised, yet genuine Chinese grievances against Japan are dismissed as artful.
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and his deputy, Taro Aso, are leading the charge for Japan’s nationalist revisionism and no doubt preparing themselves for their annual pilgrimage to the Yasukuni shrine, where Japan’s convicted and executed war criminals are honoured.
Also often overlooked is the ideological legacy of Japan’s nationalist militarism on the politico militaries in the region, such as those of North Korea, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia, but at least in southeast Asia the tide has turned in favour of civilian democracies. Japan’s half-hearted expressions of responsibility
are cause for alarm, and not only among its neighbours.
Pieter Tesch
Croydon, Surrey 

A thousand cuts

The GDP figures for the second quarter of the year were not greeted with the usual caution (Leader, 26 July). Nor was it emphasised that in 2010, as in 2011 and in 2012, there had been one quarter with growth of over 0.5 per cent – each followed by a fall. So where has the growth (of 1.4 per cent) come from? Retailing, hotels and restaurants have contributed 0.5 per cent, business and financial services 0.5 per cent and public services 0.4 per cent. The last figure shows that the government’s activities contributed about a third of the annual growth. But George Osborne has a plan to deal with that. He intends to cut public spending by over £11bn in 2015-2016 – 0.7 per cent of GDP.
Harvey Cole
If you think that “a pledge to build a million new houses over five years” is going to win the necessary votes for Labour in the south-east, you should get out more. That simply will not resonate with many active voters. The trick to countering Tory rhetoric on cutting the costs of public services is to focus on quality. The current approach to cost reduction is proving extremely expensive, in return for a much, much worse service – think G4S.
Diane Ordish
Via email

Model behaviour

Laurie Penny says she doesn’t like the “news economy of misogyny” (In the Red, 26 July). But she also doesn’t want to “deprive hard-working glamour models of a living”. She can’t have it both ways. If she wants to change the situation, she should employ her considerable analytical talents to ask these glamour models why they do the work in the first place, as this is surely where the “real threat to young women’s health and happiness” truly begins.
David Rust
St Albans, Hertfordshire

Man’s world

Peter Wilby (First Thoughts, 26 July) refers to the suffering of Henry VIII’s first two wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, because of their difficulties in producing a son and heir. But it was not their difficulties, it was Henry’s, which makes their treatment even worse in retrospect. I wonder how different our history would have been, had Henry known about X and Y chromosomes, and that the sex of a child is determined by the father, not the mother.
Frank Jackson
Harlow, Essex

Identity theft

Jason Cowley’s observations on Chris Froome (Editor’s Note, 26 July) were both superficial and unpleasant. Froome has always had a British passport because of his father’s British citizenship and is therefore just as entitled to call himself British as Cowley and myself (his place of birth and education being wholly irrelevant). I’ve no idea how close his “emotional” connection is to the UK, but then neither does Cowley.
Martin Davis
Don Mosey, born in Keighley, author of We Don’t Play It for Fun: a Story of Yorkshire Cricket, would be spinning in his grave like a Ray Illingworth off-break if he knew that Jason Cowley had described him as “Lancastrian”.
Michael Burns
New Malden, Surrey

Live well

I agreed with Laurie Penny’s views (In the Red, 19 July) on the BBC programme We All Pay Your Benefits. The programme uncritically accepted the government’s discourse of strivers v skivers and pitted the low-paid against the unemployed and/or disabled. This ideological error is reiterated by Rafael Behr in “Nine lessons for Miliband” (26 July) when he suggests that “the system makes mugs of working people”. As Ed Miliband is already aware, a correct response to low pay is to campaign for a living wage, not to penalise or stigmatise further those people already living on the lowest levels of welfare of any comparable country.
Ruby Brooks
Via email 

Home comforts

Alice O’Keeffe is doing a grand job, raising her little boy to show empathy (Squeezed Middle, 26 July). Her column is also my first read.
Liz Storrar
I’m confused. Does Alice O’Keeffe’s “nearly £200 a week” food shop not include the fresh produce in her Abel & Cole box? What on earth is she spending £200 a week on?
Sophie Charman-Blower
Via email

Vicious game

Gentlemanly? Corinthian (Correspondence, 26 July)? My one serious experience of croquet was in the company of a C of E canon who used two tactics. Under his long black cassock, he kicked the ball in line with the hoop, and he sledged mercilessly. Both were effective. But gentlemanly? Corinthian? Not very Christian, either.
Polly McGrail
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Read my lips

I thought Michael Gove’s choice of Roger Lewis’s What Am I Still Doing Here? (Books, 26 July) spot on.
Peter Swift

This article appears in the 12 August 2013 issue of the New Statesman, What if JFK had lived?

Free trial CSS