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Japan-Asia Ties Hinge on History Issue

While Japan's ruling party is ratcheting up drive to revise the pacifist Constitution on the 60th anniversary of its defeat, a prominent political leader said in a recent interview that only by treating history properly, can Japan join its Asian neighbors in creating the future.


"Japan's aggressive war wreaked great havoc not only with the Chinese people, but also with the Japanese people, notably the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki," said Social Democratic Party President Mizuho Fukushima.


"Over the past 60 years, the pacifist Constitution has guaranteed the peace of Japan and the normal life of its people. Being free from warfare is the greatest blessing Japan has enjoyed during the period. Only by taking an appropriate attitude toward history and conducting a soul-searching on the war, can Japan join other Asian nations in creating the future."


The Second World War claimed tens of millions of lives across the world, including more than 2 million Japanese. At that time, the average life span for Japanese men was less than 24 years and a lot of soldiers died from hunger in the battlefield, she said of the gruesome war.


Thanks to the peaceful diplomatic policy by which Japan has been abiding during the past 60 years, the country has achieved rapid economic growth, and its people have enjoyed affluent life, she noted.


On the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Japanese government is supposed to reaffirm the roadmap for a peaceful development. However, it fails to reflect on that aggression profoundly and uproot pro-war forces, she said.


In 1995, then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama delivered a speech that has been regarded as the most sincere and introspective ever in regard of Japan's wartime wrongdoing.


Yet, the Japanese government is now under criticism for backpedaling in dealing with the history issue. The lower house adopted last week a 60th anniversary resolution, in which the words like "colonial ruling" and "war of aggression" that appeared in the pervious document in 1995 were removed.


Fukushima pointed out that the spirit of the Murayama speech should be followed by Japanese politicians. However, some of the politicians are attempting to reject the remarks, largely encouraged by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's incessant pilgrimages to the war criminal-related Yasukuni Shrine. The resolution on the 60th anniversary is a reverse compared with the one issued 10 years ago.


Koizumi's annual visit to the shrine, where 14 WWII Class-A war criminals are worshiped, has severely deteriorated relations with China and South Korea.


Fukushima said the visits are a political signal, revealing the viewpoint of Japanese leaders on that war. She called on the Japanese people to raise the outcry against the practice.


Fukushima said her party is deeply concerned about the emerging drive in Japan of whitewashing aggression and revising the war-renouncing Constitution.


The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is aimed at bringing forward a draft Constitution amendment by the year's end to boost the status of the Self-Defense Forces.


She said if Japan really turns its self-defense-oriented troops into an army and exerts the collective defense right, the wording in the Constitution of renouncing war will become meaningless.


She also said the revision of the nuclear weapon-free principles and restrictions on armament export will produce a legal system that recognizes war.


The relations with Asian neighbors are critical for Japan, therefore, it should abide by the pacifist Constitution that is a promise of peace to those countries, she said.


(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2005)

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