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What if Asian Simon Wiesenthal had existed

Posted August. 05, 2013 07:03,   


“Adolf Hitler should have killed more gypsies….”

Gilles Bourdouleix, deputy mayor of Cholet in western France, is on the verge of ending his political career after muttering the words to himself late last month. The reckless remarks he made during verbal dispute with Eastern European gypsies, who illegally parked more than 100 camping cars, were recorded onsite and were carried in a local newspaper, causing an escalating stir. He underwent prosecutorial probe for his alleged glorifying of the “Nazis’ crimes against humanity.” If found guilty, he will be sentenced to up to five years in prison and 45,000 euros (59,000 U.S. dollars) of fines. He has been kicked out of his political party.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso made absurd remarks that are beyond belief. He proposed that the rightist force in Japan, which is seeking amendment of the pacifist Constitution, use the method of constitutional amendment by the Nazis, which changed Germany’s Weimar Constitution before anyone noticed. Europeans, who are well aware that the Nazis’ constitution directly resulted in World War II, and the massacre of 6 million Jewish people, are totally shocked to hear what Aso said. Aso apparently made the remarks in a bid to seek constitutional amendment quietly and greatly, but he effectively made public Japan’s intent to revive its militarism to the whole world.

In France, manias of hallyu, or Korean Wave, emerged only recently, but Japonisme of French people enthusiastic about Japanese culture has deep-rooted history that dates back to the 19th century. It is understandable that they like Japan for cultural and economic reasons. But outsiders have often had hard times understanding the French people, who do not bother to criticize attitude of Japan, which, unlikely Germany, has consistently disregarded past history and has rarely been apologetic.

This writer once asked a former French diplomat. He said, “France and England committed bad things during their colonial rule, but they never made proper apologies. Only Germany, which lost the war, made an apology.” This is because, as imperialist countries, they mutually refrain from revisiting pain from the past.

However, European media changed its stance completely over Aso’s "remarks on Nazis." French daily Le Monde blasted Aso, by saying that the series of Aso’s ludicrous remarks always include "Nazism," while the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung said that Aso mentioned Nazis revised the Constitution through due process, but in reality, Nazis distorted democracy by creating a number of special laws.

Looking into European media’s criticism of Aso, this writer felt regret to some extent. Japanese politicians have made ludicrous statements on Japan’s aggression into Asia, including sex slaves for the Japanese military, on countless occasions thus far, but such statements have never received media spotlight as extensively as “absurd remarks on the Nazis.” It is also uncanny to see “toadyism toward the West” among Japanese politicians, who instantly withdraw remarks in the face of criticism by Europe, while disregarding protests by Korea and China.

The organization that made strongest criticism of Aso’s ludicrous remarks was the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human right group for the Jewish. Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005), the founder of the center, located more than 1,100 Nazis war criminals for 50 years and thus earned nickname “the last Nazi hunter.” He caught in Argentina Adolf Eichmann, who masterminded the massacre of the Jewish by the Nazis. The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently started anew a manhunt for Nazi war criminals by placing ransom in Germany.

I wonder if we Koreans have become accustomed to Japanese politicians’ "glorifying of its militarism,” while thinking that “glorifying of the Nazis” is an act by the lunatic. The situation would have been different if Asia also had “Japanese war criminal hunter,” who is as tenacious as Wiesenthal. If war criminals who were involved in the forced mobilization of sex slaves, bio warfare by 731 military unit, and Nanjing Massacre had been caught, people around the world would have urged Japan to make apologies. However, what is more important is atonement by the aggressors. Before his death, Wiesenthal once said, “Is it possible for victims to forgive without the aggressors’ atonement?”