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Japan’s Sophistry

Posted April. 15, 2005 23:18,   


Japan is Different from Germany-

On April 14, Japanese Communist Party (JCP) member Yasuo Ogata asked, “What is the government’s stance on the Chinese government’s claim that sizzling anti-Japanese sentiment in China was triggered by Japan’s skewed understanding of history?”, urging the government to come to terms with Japan`s war-time atrocities in a presentation to the Committee on Diplomacy and Defense.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said, “It is unexpected and even regretful to hear that foreigners criticize Japanese people and the government for their failing to come to terms with past wrongdoings.” He went on to say, “Nazi Germany’s wrongdoings of annihilating Jewish people and that of Japan during the war are two different things, and the Germans can blame the Nazis for that.” The minister continued, “Because Japan and Germany have different political circumstances, it is not right to simply compare the two countries.”

He admits that Japanese militarism did harm to neighboring countries, but he apparently cannot accept the simple logic of comparing Japan’s wrongdoings to the Nazi’s Holocaust.

On the same day, the Chinese Foreign Ministry happened to announce that the country supports Germany and Brazil, following India, to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. China excluded Japan from the list of its supporting candidates.

Japan’s Quibbles and Flaws in Argument-

One official at the Japanese Foreign Ministry said on April 15, “Japan did its best to offer post-war atonement to the countries that suffered Japan’s invasion,” and “Japan cannot agree to the claim that it apologized less for its aggression than Germany did.”

As evidence, this Japanese official cited that since the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty that had stipulated how to deal with the post-war issues, Japan had signed peace treaties with Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, Myanmar, and Vietnam and paid a sizable amount of money for compensation. He stated that for Korea, which was deemed as a country that went through colonization rather than invasion, Japan had signed a normalization treaty rather than a peace treaty in 1965 and offered economic cooperation, wrapping up the post-war compensation.

He argued, “Germany apologized for the Holocaust, but the country did not compensate the engaged parties like France or England.”

However, the Japanese government’s argument of differentiating Japanese cases from German cases loses ground considering the Nanjing Massacre where the Japanese army brutally killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Nanjing, China in 1937, and living body tests that indicate that the 731st unit of the Japanese army carried out experiments of germs for bio-warfare on Koreans, Chinese, and Manchurians.

A Japanese professor said, “Japan’s rightists deny the massacre in Nanjing, and the majority of textbooks describe it as a mere “incidence,” minimizing the gravity of the Nanjing Massacre.” He also pointed out, “What is different from Germany is that Japanese leadership never sincerely apologized for its war time atrocities.”

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com