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Let's See How the Matter Will Be Wound Up: Commentary

Last September, a historical textbook which denies Japanese history of aggression in the past, weakens and even beautifies Japanese militarist war crimes was produced by Japan's "new historical textbook compilation committee" under the banner of opposing "self-disdain", the textbook was sent to the science department of Japan's Ministry of Education for examination and approval.

Recently, several members of the Japanese cabinet spread the news, saying that the government would not impose political intervention in the matter out of diplomatic consideration. The Japanese government's attitude of shirking responsibilities will undoubtedly play the role of encouraging Japanese right-wing forces' activities of reversing the verdict.

The crucial issue regarding Japan's historical textbook is that it denies the phase of Japan's history of aggression in the past, weakens and even beautifies Japanese militarist war crimes. This has compelled people to doubt whether Japan has admitted its guilt and engaged in self-examination of the phase of its disgraceful history. Educating the young generations with such a textbook makes it hard for people to believe that Japan will take history as the mirror and firmly adhere to the road of peaceful development, and that it will not follow the same old path taken by militarists in the past. Such being the case, the question regarding Japanese historical textbook is absolutely not a simple issue of Japan's internal affair, but rather it is a major issue of principle concerning peace and stability in Asia. Precisely because of this, the question of Japan's historical textbook has aroused extensive concern and strong reaction in China and among other Asian countries. This is a matter of course.

The cruel war of aggression launched by Japanese militarists in those years had inflicted untold sufferings on the people of China and other neighboring Asian countries, this is an undeniable historical fact. In spite of this, China and other victimized countries still showed great magnanimity. In fact, so long as Japan can take history as the mirror, it is entirely possible for Japan of today to establish with the then victimized countries a relationship of mutual trust and friendly cooperation, and this also conforms with the interests of the Japanese people and the people of related countries. However, there is invariably a band of right-wing forces in Japan who frequently stir up waves of reversing verdicts, that feature denial of the history of aggression, and weakening and even beautifying Japanese militarist war crimes. It must be understood that the lies written in ink cannot cover up the fact written with blood, such activity can only all the more hurt the feeling of the people of Asian countries, fire their indignation and internationally put Japan in a position of being universally condemned.

Because that phase of Japanese aggressive history has not been thoroughly exposed and criticized, therefore Japan's domestic right-wingers have all along been very active. Although they are small in number, they have great energy, whenever opportunity arises, they will jump out to reverse the verdict on the history of aggression. Recently, Norota Hosei, former Japanese Director-General of Defense Agency and current chairman of the Diet Budget Committee also brazenly sang the praises of Japanese aggression, asserting that "the great East Asian war put an end to colonialism, it was thanks to Japan that (Asian countries) could have achieved independence." From one aspect this shows there are plenty of people in Japan who voice grievances of militarists, the textbook issue is not an isolated phenomenon. It is Japan itself that carries the burden of history into the 21st century, it is absolutely not others who tightly grip the issue of Japanese history and refuse to let it go.

The textbook incidents had twice occurred in Japan in 1982 and 1986, that denied history of aggression, and weakened and prettified war crimes. Under the resolute struggle waged by Japan's domestic just force and the various Asian countries, the Japanese government formulated "clauses on neighboring nations", promising that regarding the historical textbook issue it would proceed from the angle of achieving international understanding and cooperation, give the issue necessary consideration and finally get the issue to cool down. Whether or not the Japanese government can properly handle the textbook incident this time, people will wait and see.

(People’s Daily 03/06/2001)

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