Abe sends wor­ry­ing sign of for­get­ting war past

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

hile ob­serv­ing the 71st an­niver­sary of the atomic bomb­ings ofHiroshima andNa­gasaki, Ja­pan should also solemnly re­flect upon its his­tory of ag­gres­sion. One can only pray for the in­no­cent souls that per­ished in the two cities, but we should not for­get that they were vic­tims of Ja­pan’s mil­i­tarist pol­icy. Chi­nese For­eignMin­is­terWang Yi rightly said, “vic­tims de­serve sym­pa­thy, but per­pe­tra­tors can never shirk their re­spon­si­bil­ity”.

Mil­lions of in­no­cent peo­ple were mas­sa­cred, and cities and vil­lages pil­laged as the Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Army army in­vaded China and other Asian coun­tries to ful­fill their rulers’ mil­i­tarist am­bi­tions.

But by por­tray­ing the Ja­panese as vic­tims ofWorldWar II and deny­ing the Ja­panese army’s atroc­i­ties in other coun­tries, rightwing politi­cians want to ab­solve their pre­de­ces­sors of their war crimes. Ja­panese PrimeMin­ster Shinzo Abe and his col­leagues are once again try­ing to por­tray Ja­pan as a vic­tim of the war by down­play­ing its role as an ag­gres­sor. Ja­panese rulers’ ra­bid pur­suit of power be­fore and dur­ing WWII was the main rea­son theUnited States dropped the atomic bombs onHiroshima andNa­gasaki— the Ja­panese mil­i­tarists re­jected the Pots­dam Procla­ma­tion on July 26, 1945 even in the face of cer­tain de­feat be­cause they con­sid­ered civil­ians’ lives worth­less com­pared with their am­bi­tions.

The tragedies ofHiroshima and Na­gasaki, as well as the heinous crimes com­mit­ted by the Ja­panese army in other coun­tries are hor­rid ex­am­ples of what fren­zied mil­i­tarism can re­sult in. As the only coun­try to suf­fer atomic bomb­ings, Ja­pan has been ex­tremely sen­si­tive to “nu­clear” is­sues. But some Ja­panese politi­cians have openly said Ja­pan should pos­sess nu­clear weapons. Ja­pan’s huge stock­pile of weapons-grade nu­clear ma­te­rial and the gov­ern­ment’s state­ment in April that us­ing nu­clear weapons is not against its Con­sti­tu­tion have put its neigh- bors on edge.

An­other dan­ger­ous sign is that Abe skipped men­tion­ing Ja­pan’s long-held “Three­Non-Nu­clear Prin­ci­ples” of not pos­sess­ing, not pro­duc­ing and not per­mit­ting the in­tro­duc­tion of nu­clear weapons on its soil in his speech at the Hiroshima cer­e­mony last year, the first time a Ja­panese prime min­is­ter had omit­ted it since 1994.

Be­sides, in the re­cent cab­i­net reshuf­fle, Abe ap­pointed To­momi Inada, pol­icy chief of the rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party, as de­fense min­is­ter, fu­elling wor­ries among neigh­bor­ing coun­tries be­cause she is known as a po­lit­i­cal hawk with con­tentious views on his­tory. Worse, she has reg­u­larly vis­ited Ya­sukuni Shrine, which hon­ors 14 class-A war crim­i­nals. She also called for the amend­ment of Ja­pan’s paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion, in­clud­ing scrap­ping Ar­ti­cle 9 that re­nounces war, to al­low the coun­try’s Self-De­fense Forces to act more like a con­ven­tional army.

Though 71 years have passed, it seems the only les­son the Ja­panese right-wing forces have learned is to tie up with the world’s su­per­power while cre­at­ing trou­ble for neigh­bor­ing coun­tries with­out wor­ry­ing about the ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

While com­mem­o­rat­ing the vic­tims ofHiroshima andNa­gasaki, Ja­panese politi­cians should not for­get the rea­son why in­no­cent peo­ple had to die. Only through deep and sin­cere re­flec­tion on its his­tory of ag­gres­sion can Ja­pan truly re­cover from the painful me­mories of war.

The au­thor is a writer with Xinhua News Agency.

WANG XIAOYING / CHINA DAILY

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