I am delighted to see a number of articles in The Japan Times recently, commenting on the lack of knowledge among the Japanese of their country’s involvement in World War II. For example, Mariko Aoyama’s July 30 letter, Good, bad, ugly of Japan’s war,” is a very frank and honest comment on her lack of understanding of the Japanese role in the Pacific War. It is obvious that it was only after she had lived at least 10 years in Germany that she began to comprehend the devastating part that Japan had played in taking its aggression to Southeast Asia.
She confesses that the education system had told her nothing of Japan’s actions during the war, and her final comment — that “The truth needs to be taught to us” — is a cry that should be taken to heart by all Japanese citizens.
It is reassuring to note that most of the action to make amends, both within Japan and in countries occupied by Japan during the Pacific War, is by young Japanese men and women who are also seeking the truth. It is obvious that their dedication to this task has been both painful, and uplifting, as they slowly help in the process of healing old wounds.
More strength to their efforts! However, the recent report that Yokohama is to introduce school textbooks that still ignore details of Japan’s wartime aggression is to be deplored as a step backward and a continuation of what the rest of the would will see as a head-in-the-sand attitude concerning Japan’s involvement in the Pacific War.
Many say the nation will never admit guilt or wrongdoing for fear of being hit with compensation claims. Let us hope that this attitude does not prevail. This matter should be regarded as one of genuine contrition.
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