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|Tuesday, August 21, 2001, updated at 15:26(GMT+8)|
Commentary: 'National Consciousness' Viewed from Japanese PM's Shrine VisitJapanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's insistence on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine on August 13 because he was backed by the right-wing forces that can influence Japan's politics, it was also because the right-wing forces, under the pretext of safeguarding "national consciousness" and "national feeling", act to deny Japan's aggressive war crimes, so they are quite deceptive to the Japanese public.
In my opinion, it is the "national consciousness" which Japanese right-wing forces use to influence politics and poison the minds of the Japanese public who, in turn, mistake Japan as superior to other nations, therefore, the entire nation has never made profound self-examination of its war responsibility and the question of history. It is necessary to make a penetrating analysis of such "national consciousness" of the Japanese.
Firstly, their concept of national value stresses only strength and disowns morality and justice. The Japanese have always advocated strength taken as a value yardstick for judging right and wrong. This concept of value is predominant in the introspection of war. A Japanese professor points out, "Although both Germany and Japan are vanquished nations, the two countries' understanding of 'defeat' is quite different. Germany was occupied by four countries, while Japan actually was occupied only by the American troops. Therefore, Germany thinks itself lost to various European and American nations. Japan thinks itself lost only to the United States, it even thinks that it had not lost to China, this extremely wrong understanding of the meaning of defeat is one of the real reasons why Japan has thus far refused to make profound self-examination of the aggressive war it launched and refused to apologize to China for its war crimes. The professor's remarks penetratingly shows the general attitude toward war crimes taken by the Japanese brought up by this concept of value is: Japan did not lose to various Asian countries, so there is no need to apologize to these countries; yielding to the United States which is stronger than itself is something it must do, but apologizing to various Asian countries, which are far inferior in strength to Japan, is really something it is unwilling to do.
Secondly, the outlook of national superiority featuring its self-conceit and arrogance. This deeply rooted national outlook is of the view that the Japanese are head and shoulder above other Asians. In the eyes of the Japanese, although Japan was vanquished, its culture is most advanced, the race is most creative, its education is most developed, under the condition of limited resources, it has not only become the second largest developed country in the world, and it is far ahead in high technology and science.
In fact, Japanese right-wing forces are seizing this point to vigorously advertise their national superiority and try their utmost to fan up nationalist sentiment. They desperately cry that the Japanese cannot practice "national self-maltreatment", with the result that the Japanese public seem to feel once Japan apologizes on the question of war crimes, the entire nation will be a cut below others and will be in an inferior position in international competition. Japanese right-wing forces' aim is to make use of this absurd national outlook to confuse right and wrong and form a consensus, that features the reversal of cause and effect among the Japanese public: other Asian countries which had suffered aggression and plunder greatly should forget history and should not hold fast to that endlessly. Conversely, what Japan should consider is only how to maintain its "national feeling" and "national consciousness". This national outlook has led the Japanese to invariably wrongly treat their war crimes, they have never really conducted introspection from the angle of their own history and culture, furthermore, they invariably constantly hurt the feelings of their Asian neighbors.
Thirdly, their social psychology boasting that all neighbors "ask me for help". We can't say that Japan is a nation without sightedness, although the Japanese people do not lack personages of insight who advocate that priority should be given to establishing good relations with Asian neighbors and win their trust, senior Japanese officials and mainstream ideology, however, always lack the sense of identification with the Asian society and are unwilling to merge themselves into Asia. Because Japanese society generally maintains that all neighbors "ask help from me", and that Japan's economic aid and science and technology are vitally important to the development of many Asian countries, therefore, it doesn't matter even Japan "offends" others on the question of history, and will not prevent Japan from becoming an "international country" and even a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations.
Making full use of this social psychology, the right-wing forces instill the strange logic, that "Japanese yen loan" is tantamount to introspection of history, into the minds of the Japanese public. This social psychology has resulted in political near-sightedness and unilateral thinking.
During my visit in Japan, the most profound impression I got was that the Japanese were deeply affected by such "national consciousness". A consensus on introspection of the aggressive war simply has not been formed. On Tokyo streets, the ultra-right-wingers usually appear more furious than what is seen on TV screens; in new trunk line stations, commemorative symbolic ribbons bearing the word "marvelous spirit" of Japanese troops and the easy and calm elderly on the models of various types of weapon are sold, young purchasers appear to be easy and free, in the first exhibition room of the "Peace Memorial Hall" in Hiroshima, what is publicized is the "achievements" gained by the notorious Sakakaki Division in annexing the Republic of Korea and storming and occupying Nanjing; In the defense institute, the researchers openly clamored about "threat from China".
I have all along been immersed in contemplating; If Japan were without such "national consciousness", the Japanese nation perhaps could have drawn a lesson from its aggressive war, the right-wing forces might have lost their living environment, the youngsters might be willing to live in harmony with neighbors and jointly create the future.
I am not in a position to get an answer, because there is no "if" in history, the future is dependent on the present. Where should it go? It is up to the Japanese to decide.
This commentary, written by Gao Tiejun, is published on Page 6 of People's Daily (Overseas Edition) on August 21.
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