As the nation marks the 62nd anniversary of its defeat in World War II, the Japanese people should strive to reflect upon the conflict’s epic costs and consequences.
In the past year, some politicians have called for discussions on Japan “going nuclear,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempted to dilute Japan’s responsibility for the Japanese military’s sex slavery system, the government ordered rewriting of history textbooks to obscure the role of the Imperial Japanese Army in the mass suicides among local residents during the Battle of Okinawa, and the defense minister said that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “could not be helped.”
In addition, Mr. Abe has not withdrawn his call for a “departure from the postwar regime” — a phrase smacking of a call for a return to the pre-August 1945 regime because the Liberal Democratic Party’s draft constitution proposes a creation of full-fledged armed forces, and the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education is designed to instill patriotism in children and strengthen state control of education.
All these point to forgetfulness and a lack of serious reflection about the devastation and suffering Japan’s war in the 1930s and ’40s brought to people in other parts of Asia as well as to the Japanese.
This year an important anniversary passed almost unnoticed in Japan. July 7 was the 70th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which marked the start of a full-scale war between Japan and China. Japan’s aggression against China had begun in 1931 with the Manchuria Incident, which was followed by the establishment of the puppet-state Manchukuo the next year.
If Japanese only think that Aug. 15 marks the end of the Pacific War between Japan and the United States, they are either forgetful or do not know history adequately. The attack on Pearl Harbor should be regarded as a consequence of Japan’s aggression against China that began in the 1930s — a conflict that ultimately culminated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. August 15 should be a day to draw lessons from this war as well as to console the souls of the war victims.
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