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Distortions on Aug. 15 Intolerable

On August 15, sixty years ago, Japan's Emperor Hirohito announced his country's surrender to the anti-fascist allied powers, marking the end of the Second World War.


Sixty years on, some rightists in Japan are still trying to glorify the war criminals and whitewash the military aggression that brought heinous disasters to China, the Korean Peninsula and other victims in Asia.


They struck the notes of discord against worldwide prayers for peace and the noise grew even louder on recent war anniversaries.


In the past six decades, not a single August 15 has passed without a farce in the Yasukuni Shrine where various rightist groups try to overturn the verdict on Japan's war crimes, claiming the aggression was defensive and was intended to liberate the Asian nations.


It is well-known that the Yasukuni Shine which honors 14 Class-A war criminals of World War II along with the war dead is not a simple religious facility but a specific venue where reactionary political thoughts and erroneous views of history were spread.


On every August 15, we see Japanese cabinet ministers and lawmakers rub shoulders with rightists in this shrine, a scene that raises our fears of resurgent militarism in Japan.


The shrine, established in 1869 to remember Japan's war dead in civil war, gradually became a tool of the government to instigate militarism among its people to serve Japan's need for territorial expansion.


Before World War II, the shrine was both a religious and military facility which was used by militarists to advocate "holy wars" for the emperor.


The shrine now remembers over 2.4 million war dead, most of them killed in wars of aggression. In 1978, tablets of 14 Class-A WWII war criminals, including that of wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, were placed in the shrine.


Although it became an independent institution after WWII, the shrine remained home to militarist thoughts.


The Japanese politicians who paid pilgrimages to the shrine claimed that they went there to pray for peace and mourn the dead. But the point is that their visits indicated their endorsement of militarism as well as their contempt for victims of Japanese atrocities in other Asian countries.


On the 50th anniversary of Japan's surrender, then Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama delivered a speech acknowledging and apologizing for Japan's wrongdoings in the war.


"During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy ... and through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations," Murayama said on August 15, 1995.


"In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology," he said. "Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history."


Murayama's speech still resonates, but a handful of Japanese politicians have later strayed from the spirit of Murayama's speech.


As the calendar turns to another August 15, we hope that the Japanese politicians would remember Murayama's remarks, the disharmonious noises would die away and August 15 would be a date for Japan to reflect on its past.


May August 15 be finally celebrated for peace. May peace prevail.


(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2005)

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