The world will never forget the morning of 60 years ago, August 6, when the first atomic bomb exploded 580 meters above the city of Hiroshima, Japan.
First there was an intense flash of light and blast in the city's downtown, followed by a thunderous roar, with enormous pillars of flame bursting upwards.
On people's memories will also be seared the date August 9, for on that day 60 years ago at 11:02 am, the second atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki, Japan.
We mourned and still grieve for the nearly 200,000 people who died in the blistering explosions, blast winds, thermal rays, shock waves and radiation. Among them were not only Japanese, but also Koreans and Chinese.
Our sincere sympathy also goes out to the 180,000 women, men, and children who sustained injuries and lived in pain for the rest of their lives as a result of the bombs.
Every year on these days, the world is reminded of the devastation and destruction nuclear weapons can wreak upon humanity and the earth.
Reminiscing perhaps most of all at this time of year are the Japanese, as victims of the horrific weapons.
But in a way, the atomic bombs have become the only memories of the Second World War for quite a few Japanese politicians, as they try to obliterate from living memory the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army against millions of people in the Asia-Pacific region.
In the past few months, we have heard some in Japan claim that WWII Class-A war criminals were no longer regarded as criminals in that country, and that the International Military Tribunal for the Far East staged "one-sided" trials.
In a resolution passed early last week, the lower house of the Japanese parliament went so far as to deliberately delete the terms for "colonial rule" and "aggression" from the country's past. The same phrases were used in a similar resolution it adopted a decade ago.
Some Japanese officials and lawmakers continue to visit the Yasukuni Shrine -- where WWII Class-A war criminals are enshrined with other war dead. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited the shrine four times since he took office in 2001.
Some Japanese lawmakers have even ventured into revising the country's current peace constitution to suit Japan's desire to assert its influence on the world.
All this has come hand in hand with their selective memories and forgetfulness, which are a grave betrayal not only to the millions of people and soldiers who died at the hands of Japan during its occupation of Asia, but also to the victims of the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Takashi Hiraoka, former mayor of Hiroshima, who lost his cousin to the A-bomb and whose wife lost almost all her classmates, and like-minded Japanese as well as others throughout the world, will never forget that "Japan also committed shameful acts during WWII."
Honoring war criminals is not a "prayer for peace," as some Japanese officials claim, but an act that supports war, as Hiraoka pointed out in an article published in The Asahi Shimbun last month.
If we people of the world truly hope to maintain peace and prevent war and tragedies like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we should not only commemorate those who died but also never lose sight of what caused the war and the suffering inflicted by Japanese imperialism.
War criminals should forever be nailed to the pillory of notoriety.
(China Daily August 9, 2005)