Nationalism fact that these events still remain sensitive

Nationalism in Japan is stronger than ever,
seeing as how they are experiencing amnesia for its war crimes, sweeping their
acts of violence under the rug as if nothing happened. In fact, the entire
history of World War II has not been passed down at all to the younger
generation, keeping them in the dark as their textbooks mention no word about
the dark period. The list below contains some of the events that highlights
Japan’s nationalism.

 

            1. The Rape of Nanking

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In 1937,
Japanese soldiers invaded and massacred 260,000 people, raped women, impaled
babies with bayonets and fed the starving food laced with lethal bacteria. Hundreds
of thousands of Korean women were forcibly brought over to serve in brothels on
the frontlines of Japanese wars as comfort women. More than 2.85 million
Chinese civilians died in the war at the hands of Japan’s sanko seisaku,
their three-all policy of “burn all, kill all, destroy all”.

 

Despite the
widespread grieving that occurred due to the many deaths and the fact that
these events still remain sensitive to some, the massacre is commonly publicly
denied by various Japanese politicians, who continue to undermine apologies by
questioning the historical records. Novelist Naoki Hyakuta, friend of Prime
minister Shinzo Abe, called the Rape of Nanking “propaganda” and that “there
was no such thing”, denying any statements about the event, provoking China to
denounce the claims as “a barefaced challenge to international justice and
human conscience”

 

2. Tokyo Trials:

After the war
ended, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East found Japan’s
soldiers guilty of war crimes. However, the Japanese deemed these accusations as
unfair due to the composition of the tribunals and the atomic bombings.  Even after the San Francisco Peace treaty was
signed to return sovereignty to Japan, the new government was required to
execute all its war criminals, eliminating any evidence of the war. This was
heavily petitioned against as the trialled prisoners were the only live witnesses
that could provide first hand evidence of detailed illegalities that occurred
during the trials and were living evidence of the torture that was inflicted in
jail. These events were later recorded and published in a book series called Records
of Historical Truth: The War Trials.

 

Because of the
backlash, Tokyo renegotiated with the allies to unanimously amend the law to
recognise those who had been executed as war casualties and not war criminals,
while others were freed from jail. This confirmed the popular imagination that
the trials had meted out a victor’s justice – carrying out “justice” on an entity’s
own basis of applying different rules to judge what is right or wrong for their
own forces and for those of the former enemy as an attempt to prove that the
nation had not really been guilty of war crimes.

 

3. Yasukuni Shrine

The shrine is a
place where  those who died in wars under
the emperor are memorialised, including those who died in World War II. 13
Class-A war criminals are also buried there. Contrary to the actions of Japan
in the past, these war victims are now somewhat seen as war heroes and are
revered and worshipped for their sacrifice to the emperor

 

4. Loss of National Identity

During the Meiji
Restoration of 1860, Japan underwent a massive transformation where the
powerful emperor rapidly educated the people, grew the economy and built up a
massive army. Japan became an economic and military powerhouse in just a few
years and engage in aggressive expansionism.

 

Unfortunately,
when Japan was occupied by America under the rule of supreme General Douglas
MacArthur, a new constitution was written, forbidding Japan from ever waging
war again, stripping the Emperor Hirohito of all power and dismantled the
military. The symbolism of the memorials all point to a glorification of the imperial
period, which was what the Japanese felt was lost after World War II, and that
they were stripped of the national values and pride thousands of years in the making

 

5. Nationalism and Right Wing Support

In the 2014 Tokyo governor election, exit polls
showed a rising support for the right wing among the young in Japan. Nationalist
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had also surrounded himself with ministers and
advisors from fringe groups promoting the restoration of Japan’s pre World War
II glory, calling for a restoration of strong military, the deportation of Koreans
and a set limitation to immigration, similar to other nationalist movements
around the globe such as Marine Le Pen’s running for presidency and  Donald Trump’s America First Policy.

 

6. Impact on Bilateral Relations

Beijing and
Tokyo are locked in an escalating squabble over the control of the Diaoyu / Senkaku
islands, with armed ships from both countries playing a dangerous game of chicken
on the waters offshore. This is simultaneous with Japan and South Korea’s spat
on a separate island.

 

The real source
of the bitterness has little to do with the islands themselves but the legacy
of what happened in the region during the first half of the 20th century,
involving the rapid modernising of Japan that set out to establish itself
against imperial European powers by brutally carving out and exploiting an
empire of its own in Korea, Northern China and elsewhere. However, Japan is not
properly apologising or even acknowledging its atrocious war crimes.

 

With Japan’s continuous
disappointing attempts to deny their war crimes, the best thing that could
happen for Asia today would be for them to apologise once and for all in a
clear, comprehensive and unnuanced manner. If democratic Germany has profited
enormously from its open, non-defensive approach to the country’s past, it is
almost guaranteed that democratic Japan would as well. Japan should not keep
its past in the dark and should instead openly to admit them without fear. Of
course, not all action should lie within the hands of the Japanese. Japan’s
victims should also press to have their legitimate grievances comprehensively
addressed and move on thereafter, just as France, Russia and Israel have done
with the Third Reich’s descendants.