Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Abe sends worrying sign of forgetting war past

By ZHU FENG (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-11 08:24

Abe sends worrying sign of forgetting war past

Bells tolled and thousands bowed their heads in prayer in Hiroshima on Thursday at ceremonies that marked the 70th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing. [Photo/CFP]

While observing the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan should also solemnly reflect upon its history of aggression. One can only pray for the innocent souls that perished in the two cities, but we should not forget that they were victims of Japan's militarist policy. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi rightly said, "victims deserve sympathy, but perpetrators can never shirk their responsibility".

Millions of innocent people were massacred, and cities and villages pillaged as the Imperial Japanese Army army invaded China and other Asian countries to fulfill their rulers' militarist ambitions.

But by portraying the Japanese as victims of World War II and denying the Japanese army's atrocities in other countries, right-wing politicians want to absolve their predecessors of their war crimes. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his colleagues are once again trying to portray Japan as a victim of the war by downplaying its role as an aggressor. Japanese rulers' rabid pursuit of power before and during WWII was the main reason the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki-the Japanese militarists rejected the Potsdam Proclamation on July 26, 1945 even in the face of certain defeat because they considered civilians' lives worthless compared with their ambitions.

The tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the heinous crimes committed by the Japanese army in other countries are horrid examples of what frenzied militarism can result in. As the only country to suffer atomic bombings, Japan has been extremely sensitive to "nuclear" issues. But some Japanese politicians have openly said Japan should possess nuclear weapons. Japan's huge stockpile of weapons-grade nuclear material and the government's statement in April that using nuclear weapons is not against its Constitution have put its neighbors on edge.

Another dangerous sign is that Abe skipped mentioning Japan's long-held "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons on its soil in his speech at the Hiroshima ceremony last year, the first time a Japanese prime minister had omitted it since 1994.

Besides, in the recent cabinet reshuffle, Abe appointed Tomomi Inada, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as defense minister, fuelling worries among neighboring countries because she is known as a political hawk with contentious views on history. Worse, she has regularly visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 class-A war criminals. She also called for the amendment of Japan's pacifist Constitution, including scrapping Article 9 that renounces war, to allow the country's Self-Defense Forces to act more like a conventional army.

Though 71 years have passed, it seems the only lesson the Japanese right-wing forces have learned is to tie up with the world's superpower while creating trouble for neighboring countries without worrying about the ramifications.

While commemorating the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese politicians should not forget the reason why innocent people had to die. Only through deep and sincere reflection on its history of aggression can Japan truly recover from the painful memories of war.

The author is a writer with Xinhua News Agency.

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