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Philip Law’s letter of Dec. 2, “Gaining respect, not losing face,” with its hope that “courageous citizens” will take a stance in favor of facing up to Japanese history, is flogging a dead horse. There can be little chance of anyone bringing Japan’s actions in World War II to light while the police here allow rightwing groups to do as they like in harassing and persecuting anyone who tries to do just that.

Until there is a determined crackdown on such intimidation, a thoroughgoing revision of Japan’s policy toward facing its past has about as much chance as the proverbial snowball in hell. How likely is any such initiative from the government when superficial apologies — for foreign consumption — are soon followed by gleeful group visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the same politicians who just “apologized”? There also is to be considered the well-known propensity of Japanese individuals and institutions to always be in the right in any and all disputes with foreigners.

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