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Japan should recognize its war crimes

(People's Daily Online)    08:32, January 06, 2015

Japanese Emperor Akihito offered New Year's greetings during an event at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo on Jan. 2, 2015. "At the start of the year, I pray for peace and happiness for the people of Japan and the people of the world," said the emperor.

A day earlier the emperor had released his "New Year Thoughts", emphasizing that the country should learn from history in the year of 2015 which marks the 70 anniversary of the end of the World War II. He said in a statement: "It is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war ... as we consider the future direction of our country."

He emphasized that many lives had been lost on the battlefield, in the explosion of the atomic bombs, and during the air raids. He indicated that he planned to visit Palau to commemorate the souls of the Japanese soldiers who died there. In fact, this is not the first time that the Japanese Emperor has spoken about the war. In 2013, at his 80th birthday, he said that he had deep feelings about the war and grieved for the lives lost. In 2005, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Emperor and Empress visited Saipan Island to pay tribute to dead Japanese soldiers.

It is clear that many Japanese people, including the Emperor, cannot forget the pain of war. However, expressions of condolence are not enough to compensate for the lost lives, or prevent Japan from repeating the history.

Japan should recognize its war crimes. It is very clear that Japan was one of the initiators of World War II, and militarism was the chief culprit. However, after the war, the Japanese government failed signally to reflect on the root of its aggressive policies, and in addition tried very hard to blur the nature of the aggressive war. Japan began to release its war criminals soon after the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco. Meanwhile, the invaders were beautified as "war dead" and even "national heroes". Retired soldiers and families of the "war dead" were awarded subsidies and even medals of honor. In this way, the government began to distort their people's understanding of Japan's war of aggression, and weakened their sense of responsibility. 

In recent years, conservative forces in Japan have continued to grow and a deviation towards the political right has become more and more obvious. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has further intensified this trend by encouraging what he describes as "normalization".

From studying history, Japan should understand the importance of good neighborly relationships. After World War II, Japan made every effort to shrug off its responsibility - this is conduct which has seriously injured its relationships with China, South Korea and other countries. 

Japan should not only reflect on history, but also recognize its war crimes. 

The article is edited and translated from《日本“学习”历史,须认清战争罪责》, source: People's Daily Overseas Edition, author: Hua Yisheng.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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