China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s up­com­ing visit to Pearl Har­bor this month could be as his­toric and eye-catch­ing as US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s trip to Hiroshima seven months ago. Abe will be the first Ja­panese prime min­is­ter to visit the site of Ja­pan’s no­to­ri­ous at­tack on the United States in 1941, while Obama was the first US sit­ting pres­i­dent to visit the city on which the US dropped an atomic bomb in World War II. Yet, just as Obama’s jour­ney to Hiroshima did not change the ra­tio­nale for the US’ de­ci­sion to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945 and an­other one on Na­gasaki three days later, Abe’s visit to Pearl Har­bor and to the USS Ari­zona Me­mo­rial will never over­turn the fact that Ja­pan’s sur­prise at­tack on Pearl Har­bor in De­cem­ber 1941 was a war crime. As were the in­va­sions Ja­pan launched against China and its other Asian neigh­bors.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest was only half right when he said that the power of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion has turned the for­mer ad­ver­saries into the clos­est of al­lies.

It is in­deed nec­es­sary for the ad­ver­saries in the war to be rec­on­ciled with each other. But true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion must be based on the con­di­tion that the cul­prit for the war has demon­strated that it sin­cerely re­grets what it did and has been for­given by the coun­tries it vic­tim­ized.

We have no idea whether Shinzo Abe will of­fer a sin­cere apol­ogy for Ja­pan’s at­tack on Pearl Har­bor dur­ing his visit.

In his state­ment to mark the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II, Abe did not men­tion atroc­i­ties, such as the Nan­jing Mas­sacre, com­mit­ted by Ja­panese troops, nor the sur­prise at­tack on the US.

Abe him­self has writ­ten mes­sages to praise con­victed Ja­panese war crim­i­nals and glossed over the is­sue of “com­fort women”, who were women the Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Army forced to be sex slaves dur­ing the war.

Ex­pe­di­ent mu­tual needs on both sides should not eclipse the fact that Ja­pan owes the US and other coun­tries sin­cere re­pen­tance for what it did dur­ing the war, which can only come when it stops try­ing to white­wash its past, some­thing the US has con­doned in ex­change for Ja­panese sup­port in the pur­suit of its pivot to Asia strat­egy.

When real re­morse and un­der­stand­ing from Ja­pan are con­spic­u­ously ab­sent un­der Abe, it is clear that the power of ex­pe­di­ency rather than true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion has turned these for­mer ad­ver­saries into the clos­est of al­lies.

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