Suggestions for the Future Direction of Japan

The Second World War (1939 – 1945)
The war that caused the largest number of causalities and most property damage in world history

Two countries were particularly responsible for these tragedies.

Germany and Japan 

Lebensraum (living space)
Adolf Hitler believed that the living space of the German people was too small, and so Germany needed to acquire more space in the East.

Hitler started a war to secure and expand German living space.

With this objective, Germany took the lives of many innocent people. 

Dai Toa Kyoeiken (The Greater East Asia, Co-Prosperity Sphere)
“A bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of the Western powers”

Japan started a war to establish co-prosperity and a new order in Asia.

With this objective, Japan justified its aggression and oppressed the people in its colonies.

The imperialistic ambition of these two countries caused the worst tragedies in world history.

The Holocaust
Cruel ethnic cleansing
The systematic genocide of six million Jews by Nazi Germany

Like Germany, Japan also committed many cruel war crimes.

Comfort Women
Over 200 thousand young Asian women were used as Japanese military sex slaves.

Nanjing Massacre (1937)
Around 300 thousand Chinese people were murdered during the Sino-Japanese War.

Unit 731 in Harbin
Around three thousand war prisoners were used for human experimentations by Unit 731.

Forced Labor
Around 7.25 million people were forced to work in harsh environments.

Numerous people suffered from Japanese imperialism.

The number of casualties in WWII
Military dead: 25 million
Civilian dead: 30 million

The war ended in the victory of the Allied forces.

Regardless of the outcome, the war left lasting wounds.

The two countries that inflicted such pain and suffering
Germany and Japan

However, there is a difference between the two countries.
Responsibility for past wrongdoing

In October 1946, the Nuremberg Trials were held in post-war Germany.

Twelve war criminals, including Hermann Goering, went sentenced to death by hanging, three received life in prison, and four others received over 10 years in prison. 

In October 1953, a federal law was enacted to compensate Nazi victims.

The law eliminated the statute of limitations on Nazi war crimes.

An ex-Nazi SS member, Heinrich Boere, was a killer who fled from the Netherlands to Germany in 1947, but he was eventually arrested.

In March 2010, he was given a life sentence for the crimes he committed in 1944.

On the other hand, Japan took an entirely different direction.

Japan insists that all war compensation was settled through the Treaty of San Francisco.

Emperor Hirohito and his family assumed no responsibility because they were given immunity from prosecution.

Ishii Shiro, the commander of Unit 731, and all members of his unit were acquitted and released.

In 1953, the Japanese Parliament concluded that there were no longer any war criminals in Japan.

Through this resolution, class-A war criminals were able to gain power in Japanese politics.

Japanese politicians have repeatedly made statements that deny their imperialistic atrocities.

Such remarks are constantly rubbing salt into the old wounds of war victims.

Germany and Japan have taken contrasting approaches to the war compensation issue.

Germany apologized for its war crimes and made a law to compensate forced laborers.

Around 8 million victims of forced labor can be compensated, regardless of their nationality.

The German government and companies also established the foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future.”

The foundation was established to compensate former forced laborers throughout Europe.

Since its establishment, around 1.67 million people received a total of EUR 4.5 billion.

Japan asks, “We’ve already reflected on our past. How much more should we do?”

Japan has never officially recognized the existence of comfort women.

Many countries have asked Japan for compensation, but have received little response.

Many forced labor-related lawsuits are currently pending.

Japanese companies, such as Mitsubishi and Sumitomo, benefited from Korean forced laborers.

Instead of apologizing, they sponsor organizations that distort history in textbooks.

Such actions have exacerbated conflicts between Japan and other countries.

Remembrance of the past …
Even in the ways they record history, the two countries have taken different paths.

German history textbooks
Germany forbids any statements that do the following. 
- Promote conflict with or discrimination of other races
- Glorify aggressive wars or disparage other countries.

However, the twelve year history of Nazi Germany takes up around 30% of German modern history education.

Germany educates its students to not repeat their tragic history.

Japanese history textbooks
Japan restricts the use of the word “invasion” in textbooks. 

Japan tries to minimize the history of its colonization and aggressive wars.
It even justifies or glorifies the causes for its aggression.

Japan educates its students that the emperor and the people were victims of military policies.

Fusosha history textbook (2005 edition)
“There were no comfort women in Japanese history”

“Korea, China and Russia are claiming sovereignty over Takeshima, Senkaku Island, and Kuril Island respectively.”

“However, these islands are all Japanese territories both legally and historically.” 

Japan has constantly denied its past and shown no regret for its past atrocities.

Instead, it claims sovereignty over territories that it took during their imperialistic activities.
For this reason, Japan is constantly in conflict with other Asian countries.

Germany built a memorial to commemorate war victims.

The Holocaust Memorial occupies about 19,000 square meters in the center of the capital of Berlin.

The memorial was dedicated to the 5.5 million Holocaust victims.

In contrast, Japan enshrined class-A war criminals in the Yasukuni shrine in the capital of Tokyo.

Influential Japanese politicians visit the shrine to worship.

Japanese people wear the old military uniform and start marching in the shrine.

During the march, they hold the Rising Sun Flag in their hands.

Japan is even promoting the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard, the site of forced labor.

It argues that the shipyard has significant value as the first large shipyard in the East.

Japan is now attempting to register this shipyard as a UNESCO world heritage site.

However, Japan hides the fact that Mitsubishi confined people on Hashima Island, then known as the prison island.

Over 800 Koreans were forced to work in coal mines on the island.  

Japanese imperialism is the root of many conflicts in Northeast Asia.

Sovereignty disputes over Dokdo, the Diaoyu Island, and the Kuril Islands
Compensation issues for military sex slaves and forced laborers
Distortions of history

Nearly 70 years have passed since the end of the war.
However, the wounds from the war have yet to heal.

Here we speak to the Japanese and to the world.

Many Asian countries suffered from Japanese imperialism.

Despite Japan’s efforts to distort the truth, history won’t change.

However, Japan’s self-reflection and apologies will lead Asia to a peaceful future.
Japan was the offender in the tragic war.

However, Japan also has the key to resolving historical conflicts and creating peace in Asia.

Japan can learn a lesson from Germany, who was on the same path as Japan.

Germany started the tragic war and destroyed world peace.

However, Germany took full responsibility for its past and made sincere apologies.

Germany is now at the center of European unity and prosperity.

Forgetfulness leads to exile. Remembrance is the secret of redemption.
- From an epitaph at the Yad Vashem Museum

Remember the past and learn from mistakes.

Make a commitment to not repeat the mistakes.

That is how Japan contributes to peace in Asia and the world.

Korea was the first victim of Japanese imperialism.

The Korean people are still recovering from the wounds of imperialism.

However, we will continue to move forward.

Please help us create peace in Asia.

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