Mr Abe, con­fu­sion cant change his­tory

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

Iam all for low­er­ing ten­sions be­tween China and Ja­pan over his­tor­i­cal is­sues and mar­itime ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes. But how is this pos­si­ble when Ja­panese politi­cians are try­ing to cre­ate con­fu­sion about his­tory? Fol­low­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s con­demnable visit to Ya­sukuni Shrine, which hon­ors 14 Class-A war crim­i­nals, on Dec 26, Ja­panese politi­cians and of­fi­cials have passed more com­ments and taken more ac­tions that have hurt the feel­ings of peo­ple in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

On Feb 3, Naoki Hyakuta, a gov­er­nor of NHK (Ja­pan Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion), pub­licly de­nied that the Nan­jing Mas­sacre, in which 300,000 Chi­nese civil­ians and un­armed sol­diers were killed by the Ja­panese, ever took place. His re­marks came af­ter his col­league, Kat­suto Momii, the new NHK chair­man, tried on Jan 25 to white­wash Ja­pan’s atroc­i­ties in re­gard to “com­fort women” by say­ing that the Ja­panese mil­i­tary’s use of sex slaves dur­ing World War II was a com­mon prac­tice for na­tions at war. Momii de­scribed in­ter­na­tional anger against Ja­pan for forc­ing women into sex slav­ery as “puz­zling.”

While such ou­tra­geous com­ments are ap­palling, they should not come as a com­plete sur­prise be­cause Hyakuta, a na­tion­al­ist nov­el­ist, and Momii were hand­picked by the like-minded right-wing Abe for the NHK posts.

On Feb 4, news re­ports said Ja­pan planned to sub­mit the last let­ters of kamikaze pi­lots, of­ten writ­ten just be­fore they took off on their sui­cide at­tack mis­sions dur­ing World War II, for en­try into UNESCO’s Mem­ory of the World.

A day later, eight Ja­panese or­ga­ni­za­tions is­sued a let­ter to US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, urg­ing him to visit Ja­pan and ac­knowl­edge that the drop­ping of atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Na­gasaki in Au­gust 1945 was a crime against hu­man­ity. They also urged Obama to of­fer an of­fi­cial apol­ogy to the vic­tims of the atomic bombs.

Though Abe vis­its a shrine that hon­ors war crim­i­nals in de­fi­ance of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s de­mands, he chooses to den­i­grate Ahn Jung-geun, who fought for Korea’s in­de­pen­dence dur­ing Ja­panese oc­cu­pa­tion, as a “con­victed mur­derer”. His re­marks came af­ter his chief gov­ern­ment spokesman Yoshi­hide Suga la­beled Ahn a “ter­ror­ist”, draw­ing an­gry protests from South Korea. Ahn shot dead Hirobumi Ito, Ja­pan’s first prime min­is­ter and first gov­er­nor-gen­eral of Korea, in Harbin in China’s Hei­longjiang prov­ince on Oct 26, 1909. Ahn was ex­e­cuted by the Ja­panese at the age of 30. A mon­u­ment to Ahn un­veiled in Harbin last month was wel­comed by Kore­ans but op­posed by Ja­pan.

More­over, Ja­pan has also re­vised school text­books and Abe has even tried to deny the atroc­i­ties and mas­sacres car­ried out by the Ja­panese be­fore and dur­ing World War II as con­sti­tut­ing “ag­gres­sion.” The list of Ja­panese politi­cians’ at­tempts to re­write his­tory could go on. What is, how­ever, shame­fully hyp­o­crit­i­cal on the part of Ja­panese politi­cians is that they have tried to do all th­ese on the pre­text of spread­ing peace and re­nounc­ing war.

In sharp con­trast, Ger­man lead­ers have owned up to their coun­try’s sor­did past and never tried to pay ho­mage to the Nazis, deny the Holo­caust or sub­mit Nazi war crim­i­nals’ let­ters for en­try into UNESCO’s Mem­ory of the World.

Not for noth­ing did Ami­tai Etzioni, a renowned Amer­i­can so­ci­ol­o­gist who was a child in Ger­many when the Nazis rose to power in 1933, say that the best thing Ja­pan could do is to send 200 pub­lic in­tel­lec­tu­als and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to Ger­many to see what it is like for a coun­try to face its past, come to terms with it, make it part of its schools and army and never let it hap­pen again.

If Abe were sin­cere about re­pent­ing for Ja­panese atroc­i­ties be­fore and dur­ing World War II, he should re­peat time and again what for­mer Ja­panese prime min­is­ter Tomi­ichi Mu­rayama said in 1995: Ja­pan “caused tremen­dous dam­age and suf­fer­ing to the peo­ple of many coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly to those of Asian na­tions.”

More im­por­tantly, as Ja­pan’s prime min­is­ter, he should take mea­sures to clear all con­fu­sions above Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary past to en­sure that Ja­panese peo­ple do not re­peat the shame­ful deeds of their fore­fa­thers. And if he him­self is con­fused, he should use Ger­many as a mir­ror to see the real pic­ture. The au­thor, based in Wash­ing­ton, is deputy ed­i­tor of China Daily USA. Email: chen­wei­hua@china-

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.