Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Japan cannot disguise its past

By Cai Hong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-13 07:46

In its very brief description of the Nanjing Massacre, which is named the "Nanjing Incident", the Yushukan even puts feathers in Japanese army's cap. "After the Japanese surrounded Nanjing in December 1937, Gen. Iwane Matsui distributed maps to his men with foreign settlements and the safety zone marked in red ink. Matsui told them that they were to maintain strict military disciplines and that those committing unlawful acts were to be severely punished."

Then the massacre, in which some 300,000 Chinese people were killed, is described as merely something in which "the Chinese soldiers disguised in civilian clothes" were "severely persecuted".

The museum displays many suicide letters of Japanese soldiers as a demonstration of their courage and loyalty.

Takajiro Onishi, vice-admiral of the imperial Japanese navy and designer of the tactic of kamikaze suicide attacks on Allied ships, killed himself on August 16, 1945, the second day after Japan surrendered. In his suicide note, he told his countrymen to maintain the special attacks with spirit ... for "the peace of the people of the world".

On Dec 26, 2013 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine - the first by a sitting Japanese leader in seven years, disingenuously claiming that he went there to reflect on the "preciousness of peace" and conveniently disavowing the hundreds and thousands of civilians the Japanese imperial army slaughtered.

The Yushukan, together with the Yasukuni Shrine, is Japan's extreme embodiment of its forgetfulness, ignorance and self-pity.

Though it portrays Japan's actions at the beginning of the last century as a noble enterprise undertaken by Japan in pure self-defense, the world should bear witness to the undeniable truth that this is a lie.

Now self-defense is back on Abe's agenda and he has decided the country should reclaim the right to exercise it outside Japan.

When Japan, through such things as the Yushukan, is still allowed to exalt and glorify Japan's imperial militarism, it is not surprising that Abe's vision of self-defense sends chills down his neighbors' spines.

The author is China Daily's Tokyo bureau chief.

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