Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It has been some time

since I posted, and a lot has happened. China had a period of protests over Japan's misleading school texts in which the Japanese once again tried to minimize their WW2 war crimes and atrocities in China. Many Westerners used the occasion to hone their Japanapologist skills to rationalize Japan's war conduct. (More info on some reasons that Japan's words of regret aren't believable to many in Asia at and specifically and from a German journalist's perspective at . For info on how Japanese treated its POWs and how little most Japanese know of the subject, see For an simple, but uncomfortable comparison of the actions of the U.S. in its treatment of prisoners taken in the "War on Terrorism" and what was called a war crime during the Tokyo trials see Naturally, the latter in no way excuses the Japanese, but certainly raises serious questions about our recent and current practices.)

The Chinese government obviously inflamed public opinion about Japan, but if Japan had ever shown any real contrition for its past conduct, it would be harder for the public to be manipulated (assuming the Chinese gov't allowed such information to reach the public).

The Chinese are pretty much right in assuming that Japan isn't truly sorry for what they did in WW2. If you watch Japanese TV, you can often see programs---weekly in fact---about the war. However, although they may occasionally show atrocities committed by Japan's Nazi allies, you won't see much if anything about Japan's. What is shown are attacks on Japanese cities, interviews with people who survived them, and sometimes interviews with ex-soldiers about the suffering they endured. Watching them, it becomes obvious that the Japanese consider themselves victims of the war more than victimizers. In fact, this is the impression you are left with when talking to most about WW2. They will mutter something about Japan doing some vague bad things somewhere, but then switch it to the bandwagon fallacy of "everybody does it," or that they were "caused" to go to war (the US cut off oil and other materials because of Japanese actions in China).

The IHT--International Herald Tribune carried an article the other day about Japanese and Indian relations. One way that India was trying to woo Japan was to emphasize that it was the only nation to vote to acquit the Japanese in the Tokyo War Crime trials. Now if Japan were truly contrite about its past, why would this be attractive to them? Can you imagine a country trying to woo Germany by claiming that they supported the Nazis during the Nuremburg trials?

Shintaro Ishihara, a well-known racist, bigot, and governor of Tokyo used to deny that there was any Nanjing Massacre at all, claiming it to be "Chinese lies." He has modified that somewhat to quibble over that exact number of deaths in Nanjing. He and other Japanese politicians pay no penalty for statements in support of Japanese WW2 actions, or for racist statements pertaining to Koreans or Chinese. In fact, like Ol' Blinky Ishihara, they are reelected. Reelected by the Japanese public. One has to wonder where the regret for WW2 is among the Japanese. (Read about Ol' Blinky Ishihara here

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