[EDITORIALS]Japan must reflect on historyThe Japanese attempt to distort history and the remarks of some ultra-rightist politicians, made without heeding the anti-Japanese sentiment of neighboring countries, are making the resentment of Asian people against Japan grow fierce.
Following Korea, where people were enraged by the Japanese distortion of history textbooks and territorial claim on Dokdo, people in China took to the streets to express their anti-Japanese feeling. They threw stones at Japanese shops and the embassy, and launched a campaign to boycott Japanese goods. The anti-Japanese sentiment spread to major cities like Hong Kong, and Chinese indignation over Japan’s distorted view of history expanded nationwide.
It is unfortunate that Asians are failing to find a new way toward cooperation and reconciliation in the 21st century, instead of emotional confrontation. We have to end this situation as soon as possible.
However, it was Japan that started the problem this time. It failed to see the whole of Asia and turned its relations with its Asian neighbors into hostile ones. It was because Japanese politicians, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, failed to behave responsibly. They beautified Japan’s past militarism and distorted or tried to cover up the atrocities committed through that militarism. And, with the logic used by imperial Japan, they established a local bill that claims the territorial right over Dokdo.
We are not degrading Japanese history, or criticizing the majority of Japanese people who love peace. We only criticize their activities related to historical distortion: Japan beautifies and distorts the atrocities its militarism inflicted on Asian people, causing enormous damage. Japan should realize that the country should reflect on its past history of invasion thoroughly, if it wants to achieve recognition of its political leadership commensurate with its economic power and respect from the international community.
The anti-Japanese sentiment and criticism that started to spread in China, Korea and Southeast Asia will subside easily if Japan stops distorting its history and apologizes for its war crimes. For Asia’s cooperation, development and coexistence, reconciliation among the three countries in Northeast Asia ― South Korea, China and Japan ― is essential. And reconciliation is possible when Japan repents its past and takes responsible action.