Japan deceiving none but itself

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The importance of reflecting on history is self-evident: It provides a mirror for us to remember and reflect upon the past, and it is a reminder to the next generation not to make the same mistakes in the future. In this regard, Japan falls short. It is a country that stubbornly chooses not to reflect candidly on its past.

Despite the incontrovertible evidence of Japan’s wartime atrocities during its imperialist campaigns in the earlier half of the last century, the Japanese government has never ceased playing tricks to whitewash them. Worse, its denial of those shameful acts extends to expunging the truth from the nation’s textbooks.

Last week, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology authorized textbooks for students in high schools that downplay and distort the historical facts of Japan’s forced recruitment of “comfort women” and laborers, and tout its unilateral claim over the Diaoyu Islands.

This is not the first time that the Japanese government has sparked strong protest and indignation from its neighbors with its failure to give a truthful account of that notorious part of the past in its textbooks. Such is its stubborn refusal to face up to the truth, these historical issues have become an intractable impediment for Japan to improve relations with China and the Republic of Korea in recent years.

Japan’s unwillingness to face the dark days of its past have only grown stronger with the passing of time, presumably due to its mistaken belief that at some point enough time will have passed for the truth to get lost in the mists of accumulated years.

But that is not the case. The Japanese government is not only fooling itself with such a self-deceiving calculation, it is also doing an indefensible wrong to Japan’s young generation by giving them a false understanding of the nation’s history.

And the distortion of history in the country’s textbooks is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only do high-ranking politicians frequently pay homage at the notorious Yasukuni Shrine where convicted war criminals are enshrined, but the Japanese government is also pushing to break the military constraints imposed on the country by its so-called pacifist Constitution.

Japan has ratcheted up tensions with China and the ROK with its untenable territorial claims. Jumping on the United States’ bandwagon aimed at containing China’s rise, it also frequently makes waves by interfering in the Taiwan question.

Japan’s wrong attitude toward its history of aggression and its increasing provocations show its ambition to gain a more prominent position on the world stage by changing the postwar international order. Countries in the region should remain vigilant to this, lest it revive the ghost of the country’s military past.

To win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community, Japan should properly handle problems left over from the past in a responsible manner and work with its neighbors to maintain peace and stability. -The Daily Mail-China Daily News Exchange Item