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Abe's 'apology' lacks sincerity

By Chin-Tai Kim & Yeomin Yoon ( Updated: 2015-08-17 11:19

Post-war Germany accepted collective German guilt for Nazi atrocities, condemned and outlawed the Nazi party, compensated the surviving victims and relatives of deceased victims of the Holocaust, let a Holocaust memorial be built in Berlin, and has sought and prosecuted participants in Nazi atrocities. The Japanese admiration for German culture does not include an emulation of German virtue.

The Japanese government has never apologized to the Chinese and Korean women made into sex slaves by the Japanese military nor the Chinese and Korean men who were used as slave laborers. Aside from the question of whether or not Prime Minister Abe apologized this time, no due apology in full sense has ever been made by Japan.

Abe's statement obsequiously thanks the mercy and generosity of some of her victorious foes for her rapid recovery from ruins to peace and prosperity. But he significantly omits the benefit Japan received from the American-imposed pacifist constitution in growing into a peaceful democracy. Nor is there any mention made of his political engineering to change the constitution to allow Japan to participate in military action beyond self-defense despite strong opposition from numerous Japanese citizens. Abe's appreciation for foreign help in nation building starkly contrasts with his escalating aggressiveness toward the Asian neighbors Japan wronged.

Prime Minister Abe concludes by expressing his hope that the future Japanese generations will not be "predestined" to repeat apologies. To ground such hope his government should bring to a closure the prolonged game of rationalization, evasion and obfuscation. It should also renounce and discourage, rather than condone or instigate, public acts belying gestures of reconciliation such as having historical facts distorted in school textbooks and making territorial claims in an increasingly belligerent and official tone.

At least a half of the Japanese citizenry seems to approve of a vision of Pan-Asian alliance of nations for peace and prosperity true to the name -- a framework for cooperative interaction for economic development and prosperity, for deepening cultural ties enabled by their shared cultural resources, and for establishing peace and justice among nations drawing from the reservoir of ancient wisdom they share. East Asia could become a global paradigm for humane coexistence of humans, not another armed bloc. Can Abe and his supporters be persuaded to redirect their will? We wonder.

The writers are professor of philosophy of Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, and professor of finance & international business of Seton Hall University, New Jersey, respectively. Both have recently served as visiting professors at the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing.

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