Friday, August 19, 2005

An International Newspaper's Warning to Japan

In an article published in the August-15 issue of The International Herald Tribune, Martin Fackler points out that in recent years public opinion in Japan seems to be creeping toward the right, and warns that the diverging views of the World War II in Japan and the rest of Asia threaten to isolate Japan from its neighbors [1].

Fackler writes that in Japan there is a growing movement to find reasons to be proud of the World War II. He sees this movement in the following facts: Many movies, novels and comics have appeared praising the bravery of Japanese soldiers and sailors; some junior high schools now use textbooks that brush over Japanese atrocities; the newly opened Yamato Museum in Kure gives exhibits to describe how Japan built a modern navy to fend off greedy Western powers. Thus he insists that such positive views of the war are worsening an already yawning perception gap with the rest of eastern Asia, where wartime Japan is still commonly seen as a cruel invader.

As for Japan's failure to reach a national consensus on its responsibility for the war, Fackler writes that the Allied-run 1946-48 Tokyo war crimes trials is viewed here skeptically as a case of victors' vengeance. He also criticizes Japanese leaders for having failed to take a leading role in creating a national sense of remorse, as German leaders did to help guide their country's public opinion.

Fackler conclusively cites the following view of experts: Japan's real failure is not an inability to apologize to China and other Asian countries but that it is its refusal to include outside voices, particularly those of its former victims, as it discusses its own role in the war. Taking the victims' perspectives seriously is the only way Japan can convince the rest of Asia to trust it again.

Not only Japanese politicians but also all the Japanese should listen to these objective words given in the international newspaper.

  1. M. Fackler, 60 years after its defeat, Japan still struggles with responsibility. International Herald Tribune (August 15, 2005); this article can now be read on a Web page of New York Times.

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