Self-deception leads Japan to nowhere
Updated: 2015-07-26 18:11
BEIJING - Seventy years ago on July 27, allied warplanes swarmed Japan's skies as the country's militarists fought with desperation on the Oriental and Pacific battlefields.
On this particular day, however, instead of bombs, the aircraft dropped millions of leaflets containing the Potsdam Proclamation - the Allies' ultimatum inked one day earlier which defined terms for Japan's World War II surrender in Japanese.
Japan's then Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki was quick, and blind, to dismiss the proclamation the next day as a mere rehash of earlier rejected Allied proposals and thus being of no value, only to see his country forced to announce surrender less than a month later on Aug. 15, 1945, a few days after two atomic bombs killed more than 214,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
By then, the militarist empire's aggression had led to tens of millions of casualties both in its neighboring countries and at home. In China alone, more than 35 million Chinese were killed or injured.
Today, those bloody pages of history seven decades ago seemed a distant past, but the Potsdam Proclamation, which formalized Japan's crimes of aggressions during WWII and determined the principles under which Japan is required to behave after the war, remains relevant more than ever.
The proclamation serves to be a telling reminder of Japan's wartime atrocities as well as one key cornerstone to shape the post-war order of East Asia over the past seven decades.
Just like the Cairo Declaration issued on Dec. 1, 1943, the Potsdam Proclamation is one of the important legal documents signed at the end of WWII and played a key role in safeguarding peace and stability and preventing resurrection of militarism in the Asia Pacific region.
It is thus both regrettable and alarming to see repeated attempts by right-wing Japanese to whitewash the country's militarist past and challenge the post-war international order. As the world braces for the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, their historical revisionism attempts are more flagrant than ever.
The latest episode came in May when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to recognize the ruling of the Potsdam Proclamation, which said the war Japan waged over 70 years ago is one of aggression, during a debate between Japanese political parties.
He also declined to comment on whether the war was right or wrong.
Abe's pushing for a new security bill that may loosen the military confinement for Japan, regardless of strong public opposition, also put the country on a dangerous path that's too close to militarization.
The increasingly strident nationalist leader's words and deeds are putting peace and stability in East Asia as well as the international post-war order in jeopardy.
Right-wing politicians in Japan, who owe a heartfelt apology to Asian neighbors victimized by the oriental fascist country's brutal aggression and colonial rule during WWII, should learn from history and think twice before deceiving themselves into believing historical revisionism could fool the world while not heeding warnings from its neighbors.
It takes extraordinary courage to face up to one's own past wrongs. But the price for not doing so could be just as unaffordable as seven decades ago.
Seventy years ago, Japan lost the war. Seventy years later, it should not lose its conscience as well.