The Tokyo District Court acknowledged in a ruling on Tuesday that Unit 731 and other units of the Japanese army had engaged in germ warfare in China during the war. It was the first recognition of the Japanese army's culpability in an official judgment.
This time they turned out to be honest about some of the historical facts, although not about the whole disgraceful affair.
However, they refused to commit their country to indemnifying the victims of the germ warfare Japan launched in China during World War II.
The Japanese Government has done nothing to redress the wrongs, and the denial of the victims' right to damages is unfair.
The unit released fleas infected with bubonic plague and distributed food laced with cholera bacteria in Zhejiang and Hunan provinces between 1940 and 1942, killing many civilians.
Such actions violated international laws on the safety of occupied peoples and civil codes.
Hiding facts about the inhumane acts remains the Japanese Government's modus operandi.
During litigation, the government dodged discussing whether the Japanese army waged germ warfare in China and denied it had any responsibility to indemnify the victims.
The government also denied its responsibility to compensate for acts conducted before the State Redress Law, which was enacted after the war, and claimed no legal responsibility to reveal the facts about germ warfare to the Chinese plaintiffs.
The atrocities the Japanese army committed In China during the war left not just horrible scars on the mind of the nation. They are still visible and hideous in some parts of the country.
Chinese are still threatened even today by the after-effects of the germ warfare conducted by Japanese soldiers in the war. Positive antibodies of bubonic plague in rats, dogs, cats and other animals are still found in Zhejiang Province.
Japan has done nothing compared with Germany's actions to accept its historical responsibility.
After World War II, Germany paid a war indemnity of US$12 billion to the Soviet Union, and a compensation of US$60 billion to the Jews. Germany signed agreements with the United States, Israel, Russia and Poland, deciding to provide an indemnity of DM10 billion (US$4.8 billion) to the survivors of laborers for Nazis and their descendants, thereby eventually closing the last outstanding chapter of Nazi history as German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said.
A correct approach to history is the basis Japan needs to start from to develop its relations with China and other Asian countries.
(China Daily August 30, 2002)