World / Asia-Pacific

Abe's attitude root of Japan-Germany difference

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-07 21:36

BEIJING - During a recent trip to Europe, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly said that Japan will not follow in the footsteps of Germany in addressing its wartime atrocities.

The reason, according to the Japanese leader, was that the circumstances of the two countries were vastly different as Europe, unlike Asia, was aiming for integrated region.

It is obvious that the prime minister has made a ridiculous, if not malicious, mistake by upending causality.

Abe may be right in just one point: the circumstances facing Japan are indeed very different from Germany. However, that is the result of, not the reason for, refusal to apologize.

Besides the symbolic scenario of former West German chancellor Willy Brandt's kneeling down at the monument to victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1970, the German nation has taken clear and steady steps of repentance and compensation.

Current Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed the need to own up to war crimes on many occasions, saying that Germany has "an everlasting responsibility" for the crimes by Nazis.

Abe as the Japanese leader, however, last year paid a visit to the Yasukuni shrine, which enshrines 14 convicted Class-A war criminals. One of Abe's predecessors, ex-PM Junichiro Koizumi, also visited the site repeatedly during his tenure.

While Germany profoundly plumbs its conscience by paying homage to war victims, Japan worships the perpetrators, which explains why Germany can make a contribution to European integration but Japan cannot do the same for its Asian neighbors.

It is the Abe administration's denial of war crimes and defiance of post-war international order that have resulted in the tensions between Japan and many other Asian countries and thwarted the construction of a more peaceful, cooperative and harmonious Asia.

With the authority's unrepentant attitude, the right-wing forces that advocate militarism are also on the rise in Japan.

Last month, a number of Japanese right-wing activists took to the streets of Tokyo, holding Nazi flags in hands, to observe the anniversary of Hitler's birthday in public, a scene that is unimaginable, even illegal, in Germany and many other countries.

Lenient and peaceloving though they are, China and other Asian countries will not go so far as to forgive a criminal who shows no regret to its villainous past and itches to inflict more hurt on others.

Japan's open refusal to follow Germany's example reflects its flagrant denial of history.

The wrong history conception is the root reason that has made Japan "vastly different" from Germany, and adhering to it will lead an isolated Japan nowhere.

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