High time for Tokyo to face history
Updated: 2015-01-06 09:50
BEIJING - As the world gears up to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, it is high time for the Japanese government to adopt a correct attitude toward history and act in good faith to help maintain the postwar order.
A host of global and regional events have been planned to commemorate the hard-won peace after the bloodiest war in human history and draw lessons from that heartrending and thought-provoking chapter of human civilization.
Like Nazi Germany, militarist Japan back then inflicted unbearable losses upon many nations and committed horrendous atrocities against humanity. But unlike today's Germany, Abe's Japan remains unrepentant and even bent on whitewashing the past war crimes.
Now with the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII approaching, the Abe administration is presented with an unmissable opportunity to correct its historical stance and demonstrate its sincerity for safeguarding world peace and order.
Given that, Tokyo needs to change course. For starters, the Abe administration should abandon its attempts to gloss over past villainies and stop Japan from sliding further along an alarmingly right-leaning and even militaristic path.
Realizing the crucial juncture his country faces, Japanese Emperor Akihito stressed in his New Year message that "it is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war ... as we consider the future direction of our country."
Some erstwhile Japanese leaders, including former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, were far-sighted and courageous enough to face up to history, and they have been held in high esteem across Asia and the world. Some others were stuck in historical denialism and held in infamy.
In a news conference on Monday, Abe said he will inherit the overall stance his successors have adopted on historical issues, including the historic 1995 Murayama statement, and his government will draft a new statement "that includes Japan's remorse for the war."
That is encouraging, but it is far from enough. In order to earn the trust of the international community, not least those nations ravaged by imperialist Japan seven decades ago, he must take concrete actions to back up his words.
Otherwise, it would just be another round of double-talk, which will only further undermine Tokyo's reputation and credit in the international arena and damage Japan's relations with neighboring countries.
The world must not forget the costs and sacrifices the entire human race made for the peace and stability now enjoyed by all, and the international community should be constantly vigilant against any attempt to whitewash history and undermine the postwar order.