China rightly outraged at Japan: Moral honesty is the key for historical closure

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, December 26, 2013

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, December 26, 2013

I refer to the AFP news report, “Germany urges Japan to deal ‘honestly’ with WWII past”, December 31.

To quote from the said article:

“Germany said Monday it tried to deal “honestly” with its World War II past and urged Japan to do the same after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s visit to a controversial war shrine.”

I commend the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, when he said categorically to the reporters that:

“I do not wish to comment on questions related to Japanese domestic politics…

“But in general all nations must honestly live up to their role in the horrible events of the 20th century. Only on the basis of this honest accounting is it possible to build a future with former foes. This is a conviction Germany takes to heart and which in my opinion applies to all states.”

These are exactly the words stated by Seibert when he was asked “about the surprise Yasukuni shrine visit which enraged China and South Korea.”

I commend the German government and its people for their honesty of acknowledging their historical crimes against humanity and their courage to admit before the world their grave and deadly atrocities committed against the people of the international community.

They did not only apologise for what they did, but they also paid some compensation to the victims, that is besides erecting some monuments and also by yearly remembering the countless dead and victims.

That shows the distinctive character of the German people. I applaud them for their sincere and earnest efforts to atone for their crimes.

I cannot say the same with regard to the Japanese government and so as its people.

Up to today, they have yet to admit their crimes and it seems that they will never apologise for their wartime barbarism. This is a shame and undeniably a curse to all of them!

Just recently, prior to the Japanese Prime Minister’s surprise visit to the said infamous Shrine, the Tokyo governor has again shocked the people of Southeast Asia on his pronouncement about the Comfort Women.

Instead of being sorry, he has rather defended the rapes, barbarism, mayhem and mass murder done by the Japanese Imperial Army.

What a shame!

Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s visit has “sparked anger in China and South Korea last week by visiting the Tokyo shrine, which honours Japan’s war dead, including several high-level officials executed for war crimes after World War II, and serves as a reminder of Japan’s wartime aggression.”

Though I am on the side of Japan with regard to China’s bullyism, aggression and imperialism on the question of their territorial dispute with each other, nonetheless, on this specific, crucial and undeniably important historical issue, I joined South Korea, China and all the people who were offended by this utterly unmistakable act of Japan, specifically its Prime Minister.

The world opinion is already with Japan with regard to their dispute with China. In fact I also believe, based on the temperament of ASEAN, that they are also siding with Tokyo, but all of this was destroyed by that idiotic and immoral visit of Abe to that shrine of shame, crime and mass murder.

Hence I cannot understand the mind-set of Abe in doing what he has done? Why is he honouring those murderers, rapists and barbaric thugs?

For indeed, the said “visit came at a time when Japan’s ties with China have turned particularly sour over a territorial dispute regarding islands in the East China Sea.”

Suggestion to Japan, to Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese people

In my view, the only way wherein the people of Southeast Asia can truly forgive you and your people is by admitting before the whole world your World War II barbarism, mass murder, rapes and inhumanity.

Confess your crimes, follow the act of Germany, apologise and pay compensation to the surviving victims.

Close that shrine and instead erect a monument highlighting your remorse and guilt with regard to your historical crimes.

I believe that these acts are the only key in order for your government and people to end the curse, for they are precisely the necessary keys for our collective closure. Yes, our collective closure, because despite the fact that you helped us during the super typhoon; still I cannot forget what you did to my people and the people of Southeast Asia during World War II.

Apologise and we will forgive and then, only then, can we truly and fully forgive!

What is the purpose or the point of an official apology?

It is my firm view and so I hold that the ultimate purpose of an official apology is to admit one’s crimes, to bear responsibility to the said wrong act, to atone for the sins and transgressions of our predecessors, to remember the dead, to honour their memory, celebrate their legacy, to vow that this gruesome event will never again recur and to forge a sense of closure, both personal and historical; both to the perpetrators and so as to the victims.

Am I responsible for the crimes and sins of my forefathers?

I heard the question. I beg the indulgence of the reader if I will ask the great Professor Alasdair MacIntyre to offers a powerful answer to that question:

“I inherit from the past of my family, my city, my tribe, my nation, a variety of debts, inheritances, rightful expectations and obligations. These constitute the given of my life, my moral starting-point. This is in part what gives my own life its moral particularity.”

Hence, we may not be legally and personally liable for the crimes and transgressions committed by our forefathers to others; yet we cannot escape the historical liability; we are morally responsible not only to the past, but also to the present.

Our duty is to acknowledge the mistakes and the wrong that has been done and vow that the same would never ever happen again.

In a sense, our ethic-moral duties and historical obligations is to correct the mistakes of the past and remedy the historical errors and blunders.

If we will evade and deny this task, then, history will continue to haunt us; because the vengeance of history is a hundred times more terrible!

To quote the prophetic words of Bobby Sands: “Our vengeance will be the laughter of our children.”

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Categories: Human Rights & Social Issues

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Is not Korea a province of Japan during that time and the Koreans speak Japanese and has Japanese names and they serve in the Japanese Imperial Army? Just asking .



  1. China takes propaganda war with Japan to United Nations | China Daily Mail

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