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What’s not happened since May 35, 1989

11 3 0
10.06.2019

By the time you read this column, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be ready to leave for Tehran. This week I first wondered if I should write about Abe’s trip to Iran, the first visit to the country by a Japanese prime minister since 1978, but finally decided not to, because I strongly felt that I should write something about the 30th anniversary of May 35, 1989.

Like “VIIV” or “Eight Squared,” “May 35” is another argot for the bloody crackdown on student protesters occupying Beijing’s Tiananmen Square that started before dawn on June 4, 1989. People often ask each other what they were doing on a historic day and for “June 4,” I am no exception.

I was the deputy director at the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Division of Japan’s Foreign Ministry. The office, by definition, is destined to deal with whatever accidents, incidents, mishaps or other unpopular troubles caused by the U.S. forces in Japan and nobody envied my post at that time.

Once an accident or incident happens, it is often followed by a series of similar events. When June 4 took place in Beijing, we were extremely busy with the U.S. forces’ three consecutive aviation accidents in Japan. Nonetheless, we were literally glued to the TV screen showing CNN’s live coverage on China all day.

Indeed, it was a shocking scene that, unlike the fall of the Berlin Wall, ended with bloodshed and a still-unknown number of deaths and casualties. It was a decision made by leader Deng Xiaoping, who ordered People’s Liberation Army units to remove the students by force from the center of........

© The Japan Times