Thursday, August 17, 2006

First Step for Better Relationships With Asian Nations

Before and during the Pacific War, many Asians died in their pains and cries. Some of them were tortured and murdered by the Japanese imperial military.The grandfather of a Chinese-Canadian friend of mine once burst into tears while touching the scars on his face, talking to me about the Pacific War: "These are the scars from slashes made by Japanese soldiers, and I will never forget the bloody history of the war." A Korean-Canadian acquaintance told me that even though he wishes to make peace with Japanese people, it is still hard for him to forget the past because of the awful stories he heard from his grandmother: "Japanese soldiers raped women and girls. They beheaded anyone that offered any resistance."

Many Japanese veterans who moved to Canada after the war, and became Canadian citizens told me awful stories on how they were cruel to innocent people during the Pacific War. Most of them also said that they hated the Japanese system because they were brainwashed and betrayed by narrow-minded educators (parents, teacher, politicians, Shinto priests ...)

In 1995 then-Premier Murayama Tomiichi apologized to Asian nations for Japan's military aggression during the Pacific War. It was a good initiative to help alleviate the victim's sorrow and anger. But contrary to his words, some Japanese politicians continue to minimize atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in the past, or they simply act as if their nation has never done anything wrong.

On August 15 2006, Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro visited Yasukuni Shrine, his fifth annual visit to the shrine since he took office in April 2001. This shrine honors war dead, including Tojo Hideki, a class-A war criminal, who instructed his family to make no excuses before he was executed after the war.

The war happened decades ago, but I think it is our generation's duty to deal with the truth of history. If the Japanese government really wants to forge good genuine relations with its Asian neighbors, it must view history correctly and show sincerity in handling the sentiment of people that have suffered under Japan's militaristic aggression.

I think the prime minister's visit to Yasukuni Shrine again this year deeply hurt the feelings of most Asian people, and severely damaged Japan's image as a "peaceful nation" in the international community. At the same time, it is no doubt a real challenge to all peace-loving people in Japan and other Asian countries who seek friendly relationships with each other. His visit to Yasukuni Shrine has aroused deeper apprehension among Asians because it was not long since Japan had enacted emergency laws to deal with threats to national security.

I deeply believe the Japanese government must review its nation's past, reflect on it, vow not to repeat the same faults, and cooperate with other Asian nations. This will never be attained unless Japanese politicians, the media and the majority of Japanese citizens make serious efforts to make their own viewpoint on other Asian nations which were victimized by the Japanese imperial military in the past.

Inspiring Quote:
"People who have closed their eyes to the past, are blind in the present." (Richard Von Weizsacker / Former President of West Germany)

1 comment:

Pathdoc said...

Joel, I love your blog. It is too bad that it is not published simultaneously in both Japanese and English - I think Japanese people should be exposed to more of this thinking.