Tue, August 14, 2012
China > China & World > Focus on China's Neighborhood

Japan's abstaining from shrine visit positive, but history reflections still needed

2012-08-14 09:03:48 GMT2012-08-14 17:03:48(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda reaffirmed Friday that he and his cabinet wouldn't visit the Yasukuni Shrine that honors the war-time dead including top war criminals on Aug. 15, the 67th anniversary of its World War II surrender.

The announcement was a positive sign and should be applauded, but Japan, in order to earn full acceptance and understanding from neighboring countries, perhaps should make more efforts in reflecting upon its wartime past.

It is comforting to see that since the Democratic Party of Japan came in power in 2009, not a Japanese prime minister has visited the shrine.

In contrast, despite strong protest from China, South Korea and some other Asian countries, Japanese leaders, in the past decades, from time to time, visited the shrine that honors 2.5 million Japanese killed in wars, including 14 Class-A war criminals.

Noda's latest decision could be regarded as a means to alleviate growing public anger in neighboring countries against Japan's unrepentant attitude toward World War II, in which Japanese forces invaded the countries and brutally killed tens of millions of people.

The prime minister was aimed at calming the nerves of neighboring countries it invaded, especially China, and preventing Sino-Japanese ties from falling into an "unimaginable abyss," as a Japanese newspaper said in a recent commentary.

Japan's pragmatic take on historical issues with China and other Asian countries is on the right track, but it is still far from a complete reflection upon and rectification of its war aggressions.

A growing force of right-wing extremism is stoking nationalism within Japan. It refuses to acknowledge the invasive nature of the war, sees Japan's surrender on Aug. 15, 1945 as a national shame, and advocates for a victim-of-war mentality as Japan was hit by two atomic bombs before its surrender. Many Japanese people still grudge to see its history as it was.

The lack of trust between the Japanese and Chinese peoples has kept vexing bilateral relations, while high-level political ties have also undergone ups and downs.

Such issues as the wartime forced labor and confort women and the clean-up of abandoned chemical weapons remain to be properly solved, in addition to Japan's controversial history textbooks and island disputes in the East China Sea.

Any pledge of "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" by Japanese leaders must be backed up with concrete actions. Only by learning from history, can Japan successfully avert a disastrous revival of militarism, which triggered World War II, and bring everlasting peace for its people.

Adopting an objective historical view is the political foundation of restoring and developing Sino-Japanese relations after the war, and an indispensable premise for Japan to build trust with the rest of Asia and other countries in the world.

Marking the 40th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese ties, the year of 2012 is expected to be a year of friendship. Maintaining a healthy Sino-Japanese relationship is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and is conducive to safeguarding peace and stability in the region and the world.

Forty years ago, when the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic relations, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai wrote an ancient Chinese aphorism to Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei: "Promise must be kept and action must be resultful."

Kakuei, understanding the message, returned with a Japanese proverb: "Credibility is the basis of everything."

Tha catchphrases truly can serve as a beacon and enlightening wealth for both countries' future generations looking foward to continuously boosted bilateral ties.


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