August 15 is a special day for both Japan and the Asian nations invaded by Japanese troops during World War II.
On this day 59 years ago, Japan's militaristic wartime machinery, which caused untold casualties not only to Japan's Asian neighbors but to the massive numbers of ordinary Japanese, fell apart.
The victory of justice against injustice, and peace-lovers against war-mongers, has good reasons to be commemorated by the people who made joint contributions for this end, including peace-loving Japanese.
But for some Japanese rightist politicians, the day has different implications.
On Sunday, four members of Japanese Cabinet, namely Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, Agriculture Minister Yoshiyuki Kamei, Kiyoko Ono, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, and Environment Minister Yuriko Koike, visited the Yasukuni Shrine, where millions of Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals, were honored. Fifty-eight other Japanese Diet members also paid homage to the shrine.
Given the war criminals honored by the shrine, the Japanese politicians' justifications that their visits are for peace are not well-founded.
It is simple but plain reasoning that homage cannot be paid to the victims and the killers at the same time.
At a ceremony at Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo the same day to mark the 59th anniversary of the end of World War II, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated the country's pledge not to repeat the tragedies of war.
However, Koizumi's words appeared faint, and his sincerity is also under doubt, in the face of his past activities and the Japanese politicians' shrine visits.
Last week he pledged to visit the shrine again next year without specifying the date. He has paid four visits to Yasukuni Shrine since he became prime minister in 2001.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, suggested on Sunday that Emperor Akihito should visit the Yasukuni Shrine next year on the 60th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.
Japan's position on the historical issue is in sharp contrast with Germany's views.
At this year's celebration of the D-Day landing, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder openly acknowledged it was Germany that unleashed an evil war that triggered a catastrophe upon its neighbors. Germany has thus won the country full trust from its victims.
Why won't Japan do the same thing?
(China Daily August 17, 2004)