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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Japanese militarism


            A nation that fails to learn from its past mistakes is condemned to repeat them. This aphorism came to my mind the other day when I heard the news that some Japanese cabinet ministers and members of the Diet (Parliament) visited Yasukuni Shrine to pay tribute to their war dead including the war criminals who were executed at the end of the Second World War.
 
Japan, needless to say, is the only nation on earth, two of whose cities were destroyed by nuclear bombs. It was part of the price the Japanese had to pay for the cruel and inhuman aggression they had perpetrated against Korea, China and other Asian countries before and during the war that they started against the United States in 1939.
 
The nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as other painful experiences of the war that had “traumatized” the Japanese and forced them to do some soul searching after the war are apparently fading fast from their memories. Led by an increasing number of rightists, the Japanese voters elected Shinjo Abe as their prime minister late last year, paving the way for their country toward the revival of militarism.
 
Unlike Germany, Japan’s Axis partner, which has apologized for the atrocities that the Nazis had committed in Europe, Japan refuses to admit that it had brutalized Korea as a colonial overlord for 35 years. Instead, it claims that it had been a generous benefactor to Korea and China as it has helped modernize them

It says, for instance, it built railroads in Korea for the Korean people when it actually needed them to transport the minerals and other materials to Japan to produce weapons, among other things, in preparations for the war against America. Japan also claims that it had helped “Korean prostitutes” to earn their living when it had, in fact, forcibly recruited young, innocent girls and sent them to China to serve as sex slaves to Japanese soldiers fighting there

This kind of white lies are sweeping Japan these days in rightist efforts to cover up its wartime brutality.

In any event, Korea and China today are not what they used to be at the turn of the 20th century: a pair of meek and poverty-stricken neighbors. South Korea and China are the world’s 12th and second largest economies, respectively, with strong armed forces that could defend themselves against any foreign aggressors including, possibly, Japan. The Japanese would have to pay a heavy price once more, if they try and repeat their past mistake by arming themselves heavily and attack their neighbors again.
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1 comment:

  1. Its unlikely the Japanese are thinking of restarting anything for exactly the reasons you give in your last paragraph. Instead the visit was probably a face-saving move before Abe visited Russia to negotiate about their own island dispute.

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