May 25, 2005

Japan’s war crimes and its apologies

At last month's Asia-Africa conference held in Indonesia, Japanese prime minister made a public apology to the nations which had suffered under Japan’s aggression.

Japan has apologized several times over the years. Is Japan sincere?

Consider the following.

In fact the Japanese Government had never admitted that Asian women were forced to be ‘comfort women’ (sex slaves) until a UN Commission released a report which confirmed the truth. Still some Japanese officials claimed that the women became prostitutes in order to earn quick money!

Similarly, the JG never admitted to capturing thousands of civilians for slave labour, subjecting them to degrading treatment, torture and senseless killing.

The JG has also remained silent on the most notorious war crime committed by Unit 731 which carried out hideous biological and chemical experiments with live prisoners.

The Japanese PM’s annual visit to the Yasukuni Shrine which honours the war dead including 14 Class A war criminals. The Shrine is regarded by Asian nations as a monument to Japanese militarism.

The most recent issue: The approval of a textbook that distorts and waters down Japan’s war atrocities. Some recent books do not even mention the issues of comfort women and forced labour and in many new history textbooks the horrendous Nanking Massacre in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were butchered is merely referred to as the Nanjing Incident.

It seems that Japan still believes that it has done no wrong or that it does not want to confess its guilt and redress the situation. What is the point of apologizing if it is not followed by deeds.

Against such a backdrop, the recent anti-Japan demonstrations in China and South Korea should not be seen as narrow-minded nationalism.

Latest: It was reported today (27/05/05) that a Japanese lawmaker said that those convicted in the Tokyo War Crime Trial were not considered criminals in Japan and that there was nothing wrong in honouring them.

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