In his April 18 letter, “Can old issues be put to rest?,” B.K. Cottle expresses his disdain for the tendency of Japan to see itself as a victim of World War II. While there is no doubt that this is an irresponsible and morally reprehensible position for Japan to take, given Japan’s culpability in the war, his answer as to whether America is in a position to criticize Japan is an unashamed and resounding “yes.”

Given America’s current involvement in an essentially illegal war, started on false premises, this seems a bit much. Cottle then goes on to quote a “government official” as saying, “History is taught so that we replicate the good and don’t repeat the bad.” Clearly, this is a maxim to which everyone should adhere.

Pulitzer prizewinning historian and professor John W. Dower writes, “. . . as the Cold War intensified and the (U.S.) occupiers came to identify China as the arch enemy, it became an integral part of American policy itself to discourage recollection of Japan’s atrocities . . .,” thus reinforcing Japan’s view of being “the victim” and not the “victimizer.”

Is America qualified to throw stones? No. Is Japan qualified to take offense? No. Can old issues be put to rest? Yes, but only when those involved have an informed, intelligent view of historical actuality, and do not succumb to the emotive self-aggrandizement of their own respective nationalities.

timothy khaki

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