Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Lesson for Japan in Nanjing homage day

By Wang Ping ( Updated: 2014-12-11 15:11

This Saturday China will observe the first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims following the decision made by the country’s top legislature on Feb 27. On Dec 13, 1937, the invading Japanese army occupied the city in Jiangsu province and killed more than 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers, and raped tens of thousands of women in the following six weeks.

This year is also marked the 69th anniversary of the Chinese War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945). China, known for its peace-loving role throughout human history, long suffered from imperialist aggression which began with the first Opium War in 1840. Among all the invaders, the Japanese caused by far the greatest damage to China and its people, with the notorious Nanjing Massacre being the worst example of their brutality.

Rapprochement between China and Japan was within easy reach after the normalization of their diplomatic ties in 1972, especially because Beijing relinquished its claim for wartime compensation from Japan and the China-Japan Joint Statement that followed avoided the word “aggression” in describing Japan’s wartime history.

In 1995, the then Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama issued a statement expressing remorse over Japan’s wartime invasion of and atrocities on neighboring countries. His words helped Japan to improve its relations with its Asian neighbors, including China and the Republic of Korea.

But the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s was also a tipping point in Japan’s strategic diplomacy. Although the United States ended its postwar occupation of Japan in 1952, it has maintained its military presence in Japan. As a result, Japan cannot be called a totally independent nation, and rightist forces have kept agitating for stronger military muscle and whitewashing of the country’s militarist past. And Washington’s “pivot to Asia” policy has served the interest of Japan’s hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It is this not-too-tacit cooperation between the US and Japan, obviously aimed at containing China, that should serve as a wake-up call for whole of Asia.

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