[EDITORIALS]Japan must not distort pastControversial right-wing Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara made a bad slip of the tongue on Tuesday and Friday in justifying Japan’s colonial invasion of Asia, offending its regional neighbors in the process.
Mr. Ishihara is notorious for his ultra-rightist behavior, and other leading Japanese figures have also frequently made anachronistic remarks. But we are especially disturbed by their remarks, which come at a time when both Korea and Japan are working to build future relations through overcoming past animosities.
Jingoistic statements made by some Japanese are the result of their distorted historical awareness. Their remarks serve to only insult nations around Japan and the conscientious people in Japan, as well as threaten its relationship with its neighbors. We believe Mr. Ishihara’s remarks reflect the efforts made by right-wing Japanese politicians who pander to the people by distorting Japan’s past in a destructive way.
We also suspect that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is implicitly backing Mr. Ishihara’s offensive remarks. In June, Mr. Koizumi named Taro Aso, former chairman of the policy research council at the Liberal Democratic Party, as the new home affairs minister despite his assertion that the Japanese colonial government had Koreans adopt Japanese names in 1939 because the Koreans wanted it. Mr. Aso replaced Takami Eto, who was also known for his jingoistic rhetoric. Mr. Koizumi’s appointments give the impression that he supports such remarks. Mr. Koizumi appears to be taking advantage of such remarks made by populists like Mr. Ishihara to win the general election Sunday.
The democratic system and spirit are spreading in Asia. If Japan reverts to extreme-rightist ideas again and refuses to repent for the past, it is a tragedy not only for Japan but also for Asia and the entire world.
Conscientious intellectuals and leaders of Japan should work to prevent right-wing politicians from making offensive remarks. We hope Japan examines the mistakes it made in the past, respects its surrounding nations and harmonizes with the world.