World Insights: Japan should not go too far in whitewashing militarism-Xinhua

World Insights: Japan should not go too far in whitewashing militarism

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-08-15 23:52:30

TOKYO, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Japan on Monday marked the 77th anniversary of its unconditional surrender in World War II (WWII). Back then, the forces of human progress defeated militarism and fascism in Japan. Yet 77 years later, the history of Japanese aggression in Asia is being overturned, and the pain experienced by people of war victims is being ignored.

Analysts said that a wrong perception of history has now permeated the Japanese society -- the aggressor who brutally invaded many Asian countries has become a "victim" of war in the hearts of its citizens.

Also, the Japanese government has been hyping up threats in the neighborhood, on which it greatly increases military spending, builds up military strength, and seeks to break through its pacifist constitution.

Japan's attempts to deny its history of aggression and whitewash militarism not only made the country failed to reach true reconciliation with other Asian countries, but increased the possibility of repeating its mistake and bringing new disasters to Asian countries and the Japanese people.


From the Nanjing Massacre to the appalling bacterial experiment of Unit 731 and the inhuman "Three Alls Policy," Japanese invaders have committed monstrous and countless atrocities in China. Japan's invasion of China caused at least 35 million casualties and more than 600 billion U.S. dollars in economic losses.

Such gory facts, however, do not appear in Japanese textbooks. In the history textbooks compiled and published by right-wing-led publishers such as Ikuhosha, the entire history of the war of aggression against China has been erased.

In some textbooks which talked about the war, the history has been condensed, and the terms related to the war of aggression against China and the Nanjing Massacre changed to "Japan-China War" and "Nanjing Incident," which do not show the nature of such historical events. On the contrary, the atomic bombing of Japan and the air raid on Tokyo are highlighted to reflect the "war damage" the country has suffered.

Some Japanese war criminals, who deeply reflected on and confessed their crimes after being trialed in the People's Republic of China, have made great efforts to restore the true history with their testimonies after they returned to Japan, and contributed to the peace and friendship between the two countries.

However, the Japan's right-wing forces have smeared the testimonies as nonsense and claimed their self-disclosure as "self-abuse."

Japanese historian Yutaka Yoshida noted that when signing the Treaty of San Francisco, China and the Korean Peninsula, which suffered the most severe invasions by Japan, were excluded, and Japan made unilateral peace agreement with Europe and the United States. This led Japan to form a hypocritical and distorted view of history, that is, recognizing the minimum responsibility for the war abroad while denying it at home.

Japan, with the perfunctory double standards, has never deeply reflected on the war. Denying the history of aggression is deeply rooted in the hearts of the right-wing forces.


For decades, Japanese right-wing forces have tried various means to distort public perception and reverse its history of aggression.

For the past decades, right-wing politicians, including some prime ministers and cabinet ministers, have openly visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Class A war criminals of WWII. They regarded war criminals as "spirits" and claimed to "pay tribute to the spirits who fought for the country and sacrificed precious lives," sending a wrong message to the public.

Meanwhile, the right-wing forces have been trying every means to cover up the crimes the country has committed in the war, but also called the military aggression "a war of self-defense." The Japanese government, however, has chosen to turn a blind eye on those actions, and even tried to whitewash the aggression by itself.

For example, Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology last year greenlighted five publishers' request to modify or delete expressions related to "comfort women" in textbooks. The ministry approved the changes of expressions like "comfort women accompanying the army" into "comfort women," "taken away by force" into "forced mobilization" or "requisition."

During WWII, Japan sent millions of labors from the Korean Peninsula and China to mainland Japan and occupied territories, where they were subjected to hard labors and abuse in extremely harsh conditions, with mortality rates exceeding 30 or even 50 percent in some workplaces.

The forced recruitment of "comfort women" was also an anti-humanity crime that was systematically carried out by the Japanese government and military during the war of aggression.

According to a survey conducted by scholars of Japan and other countries, the Japanese army forced as many as 700,000 women from other countries to be kidnapped, coerced or duped into sexual servitude for Japanese troops during WWII, among which over 200,000 Chinese women were victimized.

Whether it is the forced recruitment of "comfort women" or labors, it was a barbaric act of Japanese militarism trampling on human dignity and rights.

However, the right-wing forces and the Japanese government are unwilling to face the facts, and even deny them, and refuse to take legal responsibility. Such practices have seriously hurt the feelings of the people of the victimized countries.


Although the Japanese government has made some remarks to reflect on the country's crimes in its aggression to other countries, the wrong historical view has become increasingly popular in recent years with the Japanese politics and the whole society turning right.

Ryuji Ishida, a researcher at the International Peace Research Institute at Meiji Gakuin University, said that from the end of the war to the 1990s, Japan treated the history of aggression with a covert attitude and double standards. Then in the past 30 years or so, historical revisionism has been prevailing in Japan and penetrated into all fields of the society.

The country that initiated the war of aggression in WWII has been transformed into a "completely war-victimized country" in the hearts of the Japanese people today, Ishida said.

Nowadays, Japan is not only immersed in the view of being "a war victim," but also advocates "military threats."

The Japanese government, by portraying neighboring countries including China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Russia as major threats to Japan's security, tried to increase military spending, seek public support for the revision of the major security documents, and pave the way for the revision of the pacifist constitution.

While claiming it will always "pursue peace" and "value human rights," Japan has forgotten how it embarked on the path of aggression in the so-called "threat" it played up.

Alarm bells should keep ringing. In 1929, when the Great Depression hit the world economy, Japan was also hit hard and experienced the "Showa financial crisis." Since then, Japan quickly turned to the path of fascism, Ishida said.

At present, consumer prices in Japan are soaring and the economy has been sluggish for decades. If Japan still does not face history directly or keep reversing its wrong view of history, it may one day repeat the mistakes of the war, Ishida added.