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Japan in danger of losing moral compass

By Yang Bojiang | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-04 07:31

The words and deeds of Shinzo Abe and his cabinet concerning historical and territorial issues reflect the Japanese right-wing conservatives' distorted view of the postwar international order.

Over the years, Japanese right-wing conservatives have not only thrown dust in the eyes of the world, they have also blinded themselves with self-deception. They disregard the historical background that led to the Charter of the United Nations, which embodies countries' profound reflections on World War II and the will to prevent the revival of fascism and militarism. The UN Charter constitutes an important cornerstone of the postwar international order.

After the war, Japan entered into an alliance with the United States, and it has since used the alliance as a shield for its efforts to subvert the post-war order, taking the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Okinawa Reversion Agreement as the basis for its claim to sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands. It should bear in mind that the legal basis for the postwar international order is not the underhand dealings between the US and Japan, but the Cairo Declaration, which stated in explicit terms that "all the territories Japan has stolen from China shall be restored to China", and the Potsdam Proclamation, which states "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out".

Japan announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation as well as its unconditional surrender in 1945. When Japan was accepted as a member of the UN in 1956, it was on the condition it accepted the Potsdam Proclamation, and this was also the case when China and Japan restored diplomatic relations in 1972.

However, thanks to the boom in international free trade and the shelter provided by the US during the Cold War era, Japan realized its "economic miracle" and began to brazenly take a revisionist stance toward the post-war international order, which it believes is unfavorable to it.

In doing so, Japan also ignores the moral justice embodied in the postwar international order. The international order consists of not only the distribution of power and institutional design; it also includes behavioral and ethical norms.

Some Japanese politicians have repeatedly made irresponsible remarks about its imperialist past. For example, Abe has argued that a definition of aggression has yet to be established and has cast doubt on the validity of the Tokyo trials. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso has even suggested that Japan could learn from the way that the Nazis changed Germany's Constitution. The wild ambition of Japan's rightists to glorify aggression constitutes direct negation of the postwar international order and shows Japan is in danger of losing its moral compass, without which it cannot chart a proper course for its diplomacy.


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