Japan refuses to accept its wartime role
THE emergence of militant-nationalism in Japan in the 1930s led to invasion and occupation of neighbouring Asian countries, subjecting innocent people to rape torture, massacre and biological experiments. Historical facts prohibit denial and distortion.
The former and existing prime ministers, Morihiro Hosokawa and Tomiichi Murayama respectively, have offered full apologies for wartime sins. But Emperor Akihito still shows no sign of sorrow or repentance for the sins of his country.
Yet what angers people most are the comments of the militant-minded cabinet ministers towards World War II. In May, Shigeto Nagano aroused the world's denunciation by suggesting the 1937 Nanjing massacre never existed.
A few months later Shin Sakurai claimed the Japanese invasion had ''led to independence, the popularisation of education, and increased literacy in Asia''.
This was followed by the visit to a Shinto shrine in Tokyo honouring war criminals by seven members of Mr Murayama's coalition cabinet.
These incidents reflect the deep-rooted militarism of the Japanese mind. It is understandable that other Asian countries still harbour resentment and prejudice against the Japanese.
Since the Education Ministry in Japan ''remedied'' the contents of all school textbooks and since the government never takes responsibility for the wartime atrocities, students are still trapped in innocence.
In a recent survey, 70 per cent of Japanese secondary students saw themselves as the victims of atomic bombs, rather than an ambitious invader of neighbouring countries.
From my point of view, apologies and compensation are unable to satisfy the grievances of the wartime victims. The most important thing is how to inform the younger generation of the truth about the war so that they will not continue to be naive lambs.
Mr Murayama plans to set aside US$1 billion for compensation to the ''comfort women'' to be paid in 10 yearly instalments starting from 1995.
But there is a strong possibility that other wartime victims may also seek the same treatment. This is Tokyo's misgiving. Thus Japan is likely to leave the compensation proposal untouched.
TSANG KIN-YIP Quarry Bay