World

APA hotel incident only tip of iceberg of Japan's ultra-right wing's history-revising

THE Japanese APA hotel chain has refused to remove from its guest rooms the untruthful books denying the Nanjing Massacre and the forced recruitment of "comfort women" ever happened, despite the unethical nature of imposing historical and political lies on customers, and the protests from people of countries victimized by Japan before and during World War Two.

The incident is only the tip of the iceberg of Japan's ultra-right wing's efforts to revise the nation's war history, with the Japanese government indulging and even promoting such a dangerous tendency.

The Nanjing Massacre is one of the most outrageous crimes Japan committed in China during the war, and thus, is one of the historical stains that the Japanese ultra-right wing forces are most eager to whitewash and discard.

The historical revisionists here at first tried to claim that the number of victims was not accurate, and then completely denied the massacre happened all together. The Japanese government even slammed UNESCO for adding the Nanjing Massacre documents to its Memory of the World Register.

The fact is, however, that the International Military Tribunal for the Far East has reached verdicts on the issue, and Japan accepting the trial results was a precondition for it to be reaccepted into the international community.

Since the war ended over 70 years ago, Japan has marked the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 respectively, every year, to remember the tens of thousands of people killed in the aftermath.

But when countries victimized by Japan during the war pay honor to their deceased kinfolk and ask Japan to reflect upon its war history so as to prevent the tragedies from happening again, Japan denounced it as making political use of history and aiming at "smearing Japan."

As well as being reluctant to reflect upon the war, Japan also does not want to see or hear its neighbors raise the issue.

When asked about the controversy stirred up by the APA hotel chain's act, Japan's top government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said "we need to tackle shared global challenges with a forward-looking view, rather than paying excessive attention to our unfortunate history."

What Japan does not want its victims to "pay excessive attention to" is, in fact, its ignominious wrongdoings during the war.

In 1994, Japan's then justice minister Shigeto Nagano was forced to resign amid protests from the Japanese people and Japan's neighboring countries, just three days after he called the 1937 Nanjing Massacre a fabrication and denied that Japan was guilty of aggression in WWII.

But now, some right-wing politicians are trying to attract attention and win support from right-wing voters by denying historical truths.

The government has, in addition, tightened its control over the contents of its history textbooks. An exhibition curated by the Women's Active Museum on War and Peace (WAM) in Japan shows that middle school history textbooks compiled by seven publishers in Japan mentioned the "comfort women" issue in 1997, while none of them mentioned the issue in 2012 copies of the textbooks.

A few politicians and high-ranking government officials even openly visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals alongside 2.5 million Japanese war dead. The controversial shrine is predominantly regarded as a symbol of past Japanese militarism.

Meanwhile, those who exposed Japan's war atrocities were attacked and threatened by ultra-right wing forces in Japan. For example, WAM, as Japan's first museum focused on wartime sexual violence against women, constantly receives harassing calls and threatening emails.

Takashi Uemura, former journalist for The Asahi Shimbun, was attacked and defamed for reporting on the "comfort women" issue.

Such a change in the political and social atmosphere should alarm the Japanese people as it is certainly alarming to Japan's neighboring countries.

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