Japan should go no further in whitewashing militarism

China Military Online
Wang Xinjuan
2022-08-16 16:09:34

August 15 of 2022 marks the 77th anniversary of Japan’s announcement of unconditional surrender in World War II. 77 years ago, the progressive forces in the world defeated Japanese militarism and Fascism. But today, Japan is trying hard to whitewash its history of Asian aggression, turning a blind eye to the sufferings undergone by the people of victimized countries during the war.

Analysts said that a wrong historical perception is pervading Japanese society today. The country, once being the victimizer that brutally invaded Asian countries, is now seen by many Japanese as a victim of the war. To add fuel to the flames, the Japanese government is hyping up threats from surrounding countries and taking that as an excuse to massively increase military spending, reinforce military forces, and seek to revise the pacifist Constitution , running amuck on the road of military expansion. From the cold-blooded Nanjing Massacre to the appalling human experiment and biological warfare by Unit 731, to the inhuman policy of “burning all, killing all, looting all”, the Japanese aggressors in China committed unspeakable crimes that are well documented with ironclad evidence. The Japanese aggression caused China at least 35 million casualties and more than USD 600 billion in economic losses. But these bloody facts cannot be found in any textbook in Japan, whereas the atomic bombing and the Tokyo air strike in Japan are highlighted and accentuated to portray the country as a victim of the war.

There are some Japanese war criminals who, after being tried and renovated in the People’s Republic of China, reflected on their crimes and showed remorse. After returning to Japan, they tried to testify to what the Japanese troops really did in China and contributed to establishing peaceful and friendly relations between the two countries. But their testimonies are slandered by Japanese right-wingers as nonsense and they themselves are attacked as “self-abusing” by exposing their aggressive history.

Japanese historian Yutaka Yoshida pointed out that when the so-called Treaty of San Francisco was signed, Japan alone negotiated peace with Europe and the US without involving China and the Korean peninsula, which suffered most from its aggression. This resulted in a false and distorted outlook on history in Japan soon after the war – the country only admitted to a minimal amount of war responsibilities externally and totally denied any responsibility internally. It is these hypocritical double standards that have kept Japan from ever really reflecting on its war crimes. The denial of their aggressive history is engraved in the mind of the right-wing forces.

Denying the aggression, whitewashing the war, and distorting the public’s historical outlook…Japanese right-wingers have never stopped trying to reverse the international and historical judgment on the country’s aggressive history after World War II.

On the political level, the rightist politicians have been visiting the Yasukuni Shrine that honors World War II Class-A war criminals all these years, including senior Diet members and even the prime minister. They hold those war criminals in high esteem, and publicly advocate a wrong historical perception by describing their visit as paying homage to the heroic souls who sacrificed their lives for the country.

On the social level, the right-wing forces have not only omitted Japan’s war crimes from history textbooks but also advocated the rightist outlook on history and painted the aggressive war as a “war of self-defense” and a “war of independence and liberation for all Asian nations”. Apart from conniving in these lies and falsifications, the Japanese government has even taken part in varnishing the history of aggression. In April last year, the Japanese Diet adopted a resolution to rephrase “forced laborers” as “recruited laborers ”, and shorten the “comfort women for the military” into merely “comfort women”. Such disinformation has seriously distorted the Japanese public’s, especially the young generation’s perception of true history.

Today’s Japan is not only obsessed with the idea of itself being a victim of the war but is also puffing up “military threats” in reality. The Japanese government describes its neighbors including China, DPRK and Russia as major security threats, which gives it the excuse to largely increase military expenditure, seek public support for revising the defense policy, and pave the way for modifying the pacifist Constitution, till it eventually realizes the goal of breaking through the post-war restrictions and becoming a “normal country”.

Denying its aggressive history and whitewashing militarism is no way to help Japan come to a reconciliation with the Asian countries it once afflicted. It will only push Japan to the path of war again, which may bring new disasters to Asian people, including the Japanese.

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