Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, has never hidden his nationalistic streak. After four months in office during which such politically sensitive issues had taken a back seat to his popular efforts to stimulate the economy, Mr Abe’s rightward-facing world view and its potential for complicating Japan’s relations with its neighbours is again coming under scrutiny. During the past week, Mr Abe has defended visits by more than 100 lawmakers from his party to a controversial war memorial loathed by China and South Korea; questioned whether Japan had “invaded” neighbouring Asian countries during the second world war; and partially disavowed an apology issued by a predecessor for Japan’s colonial conquests. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent remarks defending his cabinet and parliamentarians' visits to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine have aroused strong criticism from the international community. If Japanese leaders regard aggression, expansion and colonial rule by the country's former militarists as "a proud history and tradition," and attempt to challenge the results of World War II and post-war order, Japan can never escape its historical shadow and there will be no future for Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors.