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|Wednesday, August 15, 2001, updated at 16:46(GMT+8)|
Fantastic Talks of Japanese Right-wing Force RefutedAround the time of August 15 each year, a farce calling for the souls of the deceased militarists is staged in the Yasukuni Shrine. This year, why did Junichiro Koizumi, as Prime Minister, insist on paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine, defying the strong opposition of the people of various Asian countries and Japanese democratic and progressive forces?
This is because he had the vigorous clamor and support of Japan's right-wing forces. In recent years, Japan's economic depression, political turbulence, the re-emergence of the right-deviation trend of thought and the renewed expansion of extreme nationalism have provided space of growth for Japan's right-wing forces. Although they are limited in number, the amount of their energy is great, they brazenly tamper with history, beautify aggressive war and reverse the verdict on Hideki Tojo and other class-A war criminals, whipping up one muddy wave after another.
What particularly merits our vigilance is that they constantly write books and set up theories, spread fantastic stories of various descriptions, seeking a theoretical basis for reviving militarism. Their absurd statements are of extreme deception to the Japanese people, particularly the younger generation, so they must be thoroughly exposed and criticized.
Absurd Theory of "National Self-maltreatment"Japanese right-wing forces describe Japan's introspection of its history of aggression as "national self-maltreatment". They argue that offering apology for offence to Asian countries which once suffered from Japanese militarist aggression would stick the label on the Japanese nation as a cruel nation, thereby tarnish the reputation of the country and nation of Japan and cause the Japanese nation to have the "sense of inferiority". This is really a nonsensical talk that confuses right and wrong.
As the ancient Chinese saying goes, "Feeling of shame is close to bravery". Daring to face up to history and make self-examination of one mistakes is an expression of a nation's honesty, maturity and courage, how can this be described as "self-maltreatment"? Japan once brought devastating calamities to the people of China, Korea, the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asian countries, then shouldn't Japan conduct introspection and offer apology for offence? The aggressive war launched by Japan in the past was the conduct of a handful of militarists, the broad masses of the Japanese people were also victims. The people of China and other Asian countries have never asked the Japanese people to bear the criminal liability for the militarists. Then how does there come the "self-maltreatment" of the Japanese nation? Japanese right-wing forces have tried their utmost to shift the crimes of a handful of militarists onto the Japanese people, their aim is no more than an attempt to confuse the Japanese people with the militarists, and absolve the handful of militarists from their criminal liabilities. So-called :"the label of cruel nation" is only something fabricated by the Japanese right-wing forces and use it as an excuse for refusing to offer apology for an offence.
Will introspection of Japan's history of aggression and acknowledgement of its guilt tarnish the reputation of the State and nation of Japan? On the contrary, it is Japanese militarists as well as Japan's right-wing forces who refuse to conduct self-examination of Japan's history of aggression that discredit the State and nation of Japan. Because only adoption of a realistic attitude toward history and only by facing up to history, can Japan win the respect of the world's people. Only when Japan sheds its historical burden, breaks with its criminal past, and sincerely confesses its crimes to Asian neighbors can it win the understanding and trust of the international community.
As regards the question that introspection and admitting quilt would cause the Japanese nation to lose its sense of pride and national spirit, it is highly necessary for us to put a question mark on this sense of pride and national spirit. What are the sense of pride and national spirit that Japanese right-wing forces want to restore? What they want to restore are past Japanese militarists' theory of "Daiwa national excellence", the soul of Daiwa, Bushido, the "East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" and the spirit of external aggression and expansion. Before World War II, it was under the agitation of this spirit that Japan embarked on the road of aggression and expansion, it was also this spirit that led Japan onto ignominious defeat.
Self-deceiving Argument "Ideological Crime"The Japanese right-wing forces also have a self-deceiving tone. They charge that Japanese democratic and progressive forces conducting introspection of the history of past aggression and admitting guilt are "ideological crime". They claimed that because doing so "would blaspheme the heroic souls of those sacrificed in war", "feeling shame before the forebears", "feeling shame before the posterity", and "would greatly reduce the nationals' sense of respects for history".
It is well known that before the war, poisoned by the militarist ideology and deceived by such ideas as "the Empire of Japan will never change", and "Japan was the world center", the Japanese people were driven to the battlefield of aggression and became victims of the aggressive war. If "ideological crime" had to be taken up here, then Japanese militarists were the perpetrators of "ideological crime". It is well known that Japanese right-wing forces had, after the war, feverishly affirmed the "East Asia War", beautified Japan's history of aggression and gone around campaigning for the revival of militarism. Japanese youngsters, under the education of fact-distorting history book, have little knowledge about Japan's history of aggression, and thus unavoidably leaving an opportunity for the revival of Japanese militarism. If "ideological crime" had to be taken up here, then Japanese right-wing forces were the doers of ideological crime! During World War II, a handful of Japanese warlords, bureaucrats and capitalists had a windfall, while the Japanese people had suffered a great deal and sacrifice. It is imaginable that if there were not the war of aggression, wouldn't it be that those who "died in the war" would be able to enjoy a peaceful and happy life like those who are alive today? It can thus be seen that inspection of the history of aggression and persistently following the road of peace and development is the right way to comfort the souls of the war dead. While those who deny the history of aggression in an attempt to call for the souls of militarists and lead Japan astray again are the guilty persons who blaspheme the souls of the war dead".
Is conducting introspection of the history of aggression and giving correct history education to the younger generation a "misleading education" and "feeling shame before the posterity? According to the logic of Japanese right-wing forces, it seems that only when the youngsters are given militarist education like that done before the war is it not a misleading education and is to be worthy of the posterity. But what would be the result of doing so? It can only lead Japan once again onto the road of aggressive war and the Japanese people once again falling into the abyss of suffering, and Japan once again becomes isolated in the world and be spurned by the peace-loving countries and people. For the Japanese people, that is real disaster and be "feeling shame before posterity".
"Hurting the Feeling" Theory: Unfounded CounterchargesJapanese right-wing forces claim that how to understand and evaluate Japan's history of aggression "is Japan's internal affair", "others are not required to make irresponsible remarks", and that China, Korea, the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asian countries are hard on Japan when they condemn and refute Japanese right-wing forces' reversal of the verdict on the history of aggression, and doing so "hurts the feelings of the Japanese". They even attempt to cling to their stand of not conducting introspection and refusing to admit their guilt.
Japanese militarists' past aggression against China and other Asian countries brought untold suffering and disaster to the people of these countries. Today, Asian peoples still find it hard to wipe out their painful memory and psychic trauma, how can the understanding and appraisal of that war be regarded as the business of Japan alone?
Japanese right-wing forces invariably stress their own feelings while giving no consideration to the feeling of the people of victimized countries. Please think it over in the 15 year-long war of aggression against China, Japanese militarists caused the casualties of 35 million Chinese people and economic loses worth well over US$600 billion, what kind of feeling do the Chinese have about this? Under the butchers' knives of Japanese militarists, Korea, the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asian countries suffered inestimable losses of lives and property, numerous women were drawn to serve as comfort women, what kind of feeling do the people of these countries have?
As victims of the aggressive war launched by Japanese militarists, people of various Asian countries have every reason and right to express their views about appraisal of the past war, and have every reason and right to refute the words and deeds of Japanese right-wing forces in their reversal of the verdict on Japan's history of aggression. This, too, is a question concerning the internal affairs of their own countries. On this issue it is not the people of Asian countries who are hard on Japanese right-wing forces, but rather it is Japanese right-wing forces who are hard on the people of various Asian nations; it is not that the people of Asian countries that have hurt the feeling of Japanese people, but rather it is Japanese right-wing forces that have deeply hurt the sentiments of the people of Asian countries.
In brief, how to understand Japan's history of aggression is not an ordinary issue, but rather it is a cardinal question of right and wrong, a question of principle, a question involving the feelings of the people of the invaded countries and their long-term peace and danger. On this issue, the people and government of the invaded countries will not be ambiguous in their stand, still less will they barter away principles.
A review of the century-old history of Japan, Japan's taking the road of militarism in the 50 pre-war years had caused millions of Japanese to die in the battlefields of World War II and reduced the beautiful Island country into ruins; in the 50 post-war years, because Japan has followed the road of peace and development and gone all out into economic construction, it has thus enjoyed greater prosperity than its 50 pre-war years of aggression and expansion. The development of the 50 post-war years has enabled Japan to become an economic power of the world. The experiences and lessons gained in the past century fully show that militarism can only bring Japan disaster, while peace and development can bring Japan prosperity and affluence.
History serves as a mirror. How to approach history reflects a nation's political and spiritual realms. Correct understanding of history usually represents a turning point of a nation advancing toward new progress. The Chinese people hope Japan will persistently follow the road of peace and development, the road of friendship between the two countries for generations to come, a correct attitude toward history is the starting-point in advancing toward this road.
This commentary, written by Pan Wenjun, is carried on Page 6 of People's Daily on August 15.
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