Sincerity of future Nanjing visit must not be in doubt

“Reconciliatory value of a visit to Nanjing” (Hotline to Nagatacho, Dec. 29) by Brian A. Victoria:

It would be a courageous Japanese prime minister who would undertake a visit of contrition to Nanjing. He would have to bear the weight of the collective conscience of a nation, as German Chancellor Willy Brandt had to bear when he fell to his knees at the memorial to the Jewish uprising in Warsaw in 1970.

But what if the conscience of Japan does not acknowledge collective guilt for events that happened during the Pacific War? If Japan rejects national responsibility for a few thousand “comfort women” during the war, what hope is there for owning up to the deaths of 300,000 civilians in Nanjing? What meaning would a visit of contrition to Nanjing have while Japanese historians argue about how many were actually killed? What meaning would a visit of contrition have while Japanese high school students are taught a sanitized version of the history of the Pacific War?

Action speaks louder than words. The visit of contrition can wait. When it happens, the sincerity of the visit should not be in doubt. This much is owed to the people who died horrible deaths in Nanjing so many years ago.

Melbourne, Australia

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