An­other sign of wor­ry­ing re­vi­sion­ist trend in Ja­pan

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

The news that the Ja­panese ho­tel chain op­er­a­tor APA Group has put books in its rooms that, in both English and Ja­panese, deny theNan­jing Mas­sacre took place and that “com­fort women” were forced into sex­ual slav­ery by Ja­pan’s im­pe­rial army, re­veals the stark re­al­ity that his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ism is on the rise in Ja­pan. The group’s head, Tosh­ioMo­toya, who wrote the books, is a die-hard right­ist who has al­ways viewed Ja­pan’s war of ag­gres­sion in a pos­i­tive light. As head of a group that sup­ports Ja­panese PrimeMin­is­ter Shinzo Abe, the hote­lier in­sists he has no plans to with­drawthe books from the rooms, let alone of­fer an apol­ogy.

Al­though he cites “free­dom of speech” in his de­fense, imagine if a ho­tel chain in Europe dared to put books deny­ing theHolo­caust in its rooms.

This in­ci­dent has not oc­curred in a vac­uum. It sim­ply re­flects how ul­tra-na­tion­al­ist and re­vi­sion­ist Ja­pan is turn­ing un­der Abe.

Abe him­self has been a lead­ing mem­ber of Nip­pon Kaigi, or Ja­pan Con­fer­ence, an in­flu­en­tial ul­tra-right lobby group that as­serts the 1931-45 war was a no­ble at­tempt to lib­er­ate Asian coun­tries fromWestern im­pe­ri­al­ism, and which states one of its fun­da­men­tal aims is “change the post­war na­tional con­scious­ness based on the Tokyo Tri­bunal’s viewof his­tory”.

While it is un­der­stand­able that one might not want to ad­mit that a rel­a­tive was in­volved in hor­ren­dous acts, and by ex­ten­sion take pride in a coun­try which en­gaged in such acts, by seek­ing to white­wash the atroc­i­ties that were per­pe­trated by the mem­bers of the Ja­panese armed forces against the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion of some of the ter­ri­to­ries oc­cu­pied by them— for which there is over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence— Ja­pan’s right­ists are com­mit­ting a fur­ther wrong.

Com­ing to terms with its mil­i­tarist past has never been easy for Ja­pan, es­pe­cially as its for­get­ting has been en­abled by the United States, which has per­mit­ted its van­quished foe to re­shape its past in pur­suit of its own in­ter­ests. Thus it is un­re­al­is­tic to ex­pect the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of right­ists in Ja­pan to change their views.

The greater con­cern, how­ever, is that while not all his­tory text­books in Ja­pan fail to cover the war crimes the coun­try com­mit­ted, most gloss over them, and there are some, like one that has sparked the cur­rent furor, that deny them. The his­tor­i­cal am­ne­sia that is be­ing fos­tered in this way por­tends widen­ing di­vi­sions be­tween Ja­pan and its neigh­bors, es­pe­cially given the cur­rent dy­nam­ics at work in Asia.

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