This year marks the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of World War II, various commemorative activities have been held by different countries around the world to mourn those who died in the unheard-of calamity, to think back the heroic achievements gained by anti-fascist fighters, introspect on the source of war and criticize the evil thoughts and cultures that led to the war.
As far as Japan is concerned, 60 years ago, August is of special significance. On August 6 and 9, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombarded by the US with atom bombs that caused the deaths of more than 200,000 people. Japan has so far become the only nuclear victimized country in the world. On August 15 the same year, Japan declared unconditional surrender, making that day the date marking the actual conclusion of World War II.
At the peace and pray ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the blast of atom bomb held in Nagasaki on August 9 this year, mayor of this city indicated that Japan should deeply reflect on the war, safeguard the pacifist idea laid down in the constitution, persist in the three nuclear-free principles and cease relying on nuclear protective umbrella.
His remarks expressed a kind of attitude toward a complete and correct understanding of history. However, due to the emergence of Cold War after WWII and various other reasons, Japan fails to conduct a thorough historical settlement, so the Japanese have many erroneous and vague understanding of the nature of the war 60 years ago. One tendency of which is: Japan strengthens its position of its capacity as the victim of war, instead it weakens and even deny the position of its capacity as the injuring party in the war. This is a question that requires distinctive identification and analysis.
Ten years go, activities marking the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of WWII were held in Germany, one of the activities in commemoration of the 50th anniversary marking the bombing of Dresden by the UK and the US. At that time there was a saying in some German journals and newspapers: The destruction of Dresden had turned Germany from a criminal into a victim. But the then German President Roman Herzog held that the crimes committed by Nazi Germany against other nations and German nationality should not be offset just because the allied countries' retaliatory bombing.
At a religious commemorative ceremony, a Dresden bishop indicated, "Fifty years later, we must trace to the source, engage in self-examination and self-criticism and make a fresh start." Judged from the mainstream of the then German society, the positioning of Germany's identity as injuring party and victim in WWII is crystal clear, which is worthwhile for Japan to learn from.
In international law and common international practice, the starter of war and defender are essentially different, just as the essential difference between the invader and defender in civil code, there is no need to expound this point in detail. The basic positioning of the injuring party and the victim in war is also defined on this basis. Only under the circumstance that this premise is clearly defined that it is possible to discuss the question of excessive defense.
In days marking the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of WWII, each country should draw their respective enlightenments, for weak victimized countries, they should draw a lesson that backwardness would suffer beating, they must have the national spirit of working hard for the prosperity of a country, must have national cohesion featuring millions of people united as one man, and must have a pragmatic attitude of burying oneself in work.
For powerful countries as the injuring party, they must draw a lesson of "he who relies on force will perish," they must not have a blind faith in power and must not seek self-expansion, they should learn self-discipline, and learn to treat other countries and people around the world on an equal basis.
From the conclusion of WWII to the Cold War, and from Cold War to after the end of war, humankind has gone through 60 eventful years. Despite the uninterrupted wars in the past 60 years, despite the fact that today's world is by no means tranquil, humanity has, after all, avoided the unprecedented catastrophe like WWII.
WWII has become a warning board that has been engraved on the minds and hearts of human beings. In face of WWII, people have many opportunities for reflecting on history and molding the future. In a certain sense, the profundity of self-examination by people of various countries will determine whether or not it is possible to avoid the repeat of disaster.
(People's Daily August 12, 2005)