Japan’s Intransigent Policy Toward Her WWII Atrocities

Why 70 years have elapsed since the end of WWII and Japan still has not acknowledged or apologized for her massive and inhumane atrocities that she committed all over Asia during WWII?  Various reasons have been offered, but I think one important reason is due to the U.S.’s policy toward China since the latter part of the 1940s when the Chinese Communist Party was winning the civil war in China.  For most of the past 70 years, U.S. has been adopting a policy that tries to surround, isolate, and weaken China, and at the same time it tries to use Japan as her frontline pawn to  help implement that policy.

One needs to analyze the various actions that the U.S. has taken relative to China, including:

  • Not recognizing the People’s Republic of China for about 30 years
  • Orchestrating the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty which was the official treaty ending WWII with Japan, but not inviting China (who suffered the most under the Japanese) to participate, even though 50+ other countries were invited to participate
  • Unilaterally including the Diaoyu Islands in the map of the Ryukyu Islands
  • Adopting inconsistent policy that could lead the U.S. to a war in the East China Sea with no moral or legal justification
  • Surround China with military bases and her massive 7th Fleet patrolling the seas all around China
  • Taking aggressive military actions in the South China Sea while making false accusations against China

At the same time, one must analyze the various actions that the U.S. has taken relative to Japan, including:

  • Did not prosecute Emperor Hirohito even though he was very much hands on and approved all major decisions during the war
  • Did not prosecute any of the leaders of Unit 731 that unleased horrific biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction against the Chinese while signing a secret agreement with Japan in exchange to obtain Japan’s knowledge and data
  • On several occasions intentionally twisted history to the detriment of China and to the advantage of Japan which planted seeds of controversy in the East China Sea and the South China Sea
  • While exercising strong influence in how Japan would conduct her affairs after WWII, yet basically condoning how Japan should face its WWII responsibility; U.S. is basically cultivating Japan to be its junior partner in the strategy to surround, isolate, and weaken China

For a more detailed discussion of the above, see the article “How to Understand Japan’s Intransigent Policy Toward Her WWII Atrocities?”:  https://www.dontow.com/2017/06/how-to-understand-japans-intransigent-policy-toward-her-wwii-atrocities/

Settlement Agreement Between Mitsubishi and A Group of Chinese Slave Laborers

A breakthrough occurred on June 1, 2016 on the issue of compensation for former slave laborers who worked for Japanese corporations during WWII. About two and a half years ago, a Chinese court in Beijing accepted lawsuits filed by a larger number of former slave laborers or their descendants against Mitsubishi, one of the Japanese companies who were involved in the slave labor business during WWII. While these lawsuits are proceeding, Mitsubishi and some of the plaintiffs have been discussing possible out-of-court settlement. On June 1, 2016, it was announced that three plaintiffs have agreed to sign a settlement agreement with Mitsubishi. Since then, several more plaintiffs have also signed, and many others are considering it, while some others have decided to continue with the lawsuit. For more information on this issue, including the text of the Settlement Agreement, see: http://www.10000cfj.org/en/?page_id=5483.

This is a very complex issue involving many people, including former slave laborers, their descendants, their supporters and legal advisers. So there is bound to be a variety of positions toward this issue. We respect those who chose this June 1, 2016 settlement. We respect those who may seek another settlement, and we respect those who want to continue with the lawsuit. We are all working toward the ultimate goal of getting the Japanese government to acknowledge, apologize, and compensate the victims or their beneficiaries for the large scale and inhumane atrocities her military committed against the Chinese people during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Assessment of the 12/28/15 Japan-South Korea Agreement on Comfort Women

Did the so-called agreement announced by the Foreign Minister of Japan Mr. Furnio Kishida and the Foreign Minister of South Korea Mr. Yun Byung Se make real progress in resolving the long-standing Comfort Women (or Sex Slaves) issue?

If you study the so-called “Agreement,” there is only one conclusion that you can come to, and that is:  Not only that it was not a breakthrough agreement, it raised more issues than resolving issues.  It definitely did not reflect the sentiments of the South Korean people, especially the former comfort women and the organizations that have championed their cause for decades.  Its apology lacked sincerity, and it did not acknowledge and assume responsibility for the atrocity that the Japanese government inflicted on innocent women and girls.  It did not mention any follow-on action to educate people about what happened in the past so that these wrongs will not be repeated in the future.  Its purpose seemed to be just the opposite, so that this issue will never be raised again in the future.  It was supposed to be a final and irreversible resolution of the comfort women issue, yet it was not even documented and signed as a written agreement.

The fact that President Park seemed to have changed her mind in the last year on this long-standing, important issue, while going against the sentiments of her people, raises the question on the complicity played by the U.S. government, in particular, what pressure did the U.S. exert on South Korea and what were promised to President Park by the U.S. government?

Finally, besides the comfort women in Korea, there were many other comfort women in other parts of Asia, such as China, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, etc.  What is Japan going to do to right the injustices inflicted on these other women and girls?

For a more detailed assessment of this agreement, see the article “Meaning of 12/28/2015 Japan and South Korea’s Oral Agreement on Comfort Women”:  http://www.dontow.com/2016/03/meaning-of-12282015-japan-and-south-koreas-oral-agreement-on-comfort-women/.

Assessment of Prime Minister Abe’s 8/14/15 Speech

On August 14, 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered his long-awaited speech on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Asia. In his speech, Abe said “Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and hearfelt apology for its actions during the war. … Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future. … We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.” However, for reasons explained below, because of what he didn’t say and some other things that he did say, his speech is completely unacceptable to try to put this part of history behind us.

Because Abe and other Japanese leaders have on so many occasions made comments that are contrary to previous personal apologies by other Japanese leaders (comments such as the Nanking Massacre was just the natural result of war or it was fabricated by the Chinese, the comfort women were paid prostitutes, etc.), his comment about accepting previous apologies is meaningless. Furthermore, none of these former apologies was issued by Japan’s highest organ of state power, its parliament. Unlike Germany, the Japanese government has rewritten this part of history in their textbooks, and there is no law in Japan that makes it illegal to deny publicly the massive atrocities committed by the Japanese military during WWII. In addition, his action of paying tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 convicted and executed Japanese Class A war-crime criminals are enshrined again makes his speech meaningless.

Abe also blamed Western colonization and economic policies to cause Japan to take “the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.” In other words, Japan was forced by other countries to launch its war of aggression and unimaginable scale of atrocity. Does this reflect a man with “feelings of deep remorse and hearfelt apology for its actions during the war”?

This is why Abe’s 8/14/15 statement is far from sufficient to put this part of history behind us.

For the complete text of Abe’s speech: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/15/world/asia/full-text-shinzo-abe-statement-japan-ww2-anniversary.html.

President of Netherland’s “Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts” criticized Prime Minister Abe’s position toward Japanese war criminals

On September 9, 2014 J.F. van Wagtendonk, President of Netherland’s “Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,” a Non-Government Organization (NGO) that has been active in trying to get Japan to acknowledge and apologize for the atrocities that Japan committed in Asia during WWII] wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.

This letter was triggered by the April 2014 message that Abe sent to an annual memorial ceremony honoring Class-A (and other Japanese war criminals) and referred to those executed by the Allied powers as “the foundation of their nation.” The opening sentence of Mr. van Wagtendonk’s letter was “Your message sent to the annual ceremony honoring class A and other war criminal is truly disgusting.” (Bold and underline are mine.) The letter also said “The people of Japan must now realize and recognize the true colors of their Prime Minister. He honors Japan’s convicted war criminals, forgets their atrocities, and glorifies them to cover up the role and activities of his ancestors. The Japanese citizens will realize that the war criminals are not ‘the foundation of modern Japan,’ but give Japan a lasting bad name. … Your so called peace agenda is wrought by the past and lacks repentance.”

During WWII, Indonesia was a Dutch colony, and many of the comfort women were Dutch. That explains the existence of this Dutch NGO. They have been especially active on the comfort women issue. As a matter of fact, similar to the Koreans’ weekly Wednesday demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debs organizes weekly Tuesday demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in Amsterdam.

For the complete letter, click here.

Has the Japanese Government Apologized for the Atrocities Japan Inflicted in Asia during WWII?

You often hear from Japanese politicians that the Japanese government has already apologized many times for the massive and inhumane atrocities that the Japanese Imperial Army inflicted all over Asia during WWII.  So they asked “Why is another apology necessary?  How many apologies do you need before it is enough?”  For example, they point to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent statement on not revising the 1993 Kono Statement on Comfort Women (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/world/asia/japan-prime-minister-says-he-will-not-revise-1993-apology-to-wartime-prostitutes.html?_r=0).

If you look even just slightly deeper into this issue, you will come to the undoubtable conclusion that even though almost 69 years have elapsed since the end of WWII, Japan has never offered a meaningful official apology.

First let’s address the recent Abe comment.  Since Abe took office again as the PM in Dec. 2012, he has made many contradictory statements, and his appointees and close collaborators have made many ultra right-wing statements denying various aspects of history, including claiming that the comfort women were just paid prostitutes and the atrocity events in Asia during WWII, such as the Nanking Massacre, were just fabrications by the victims.

This set of recent events is similar to many other events during the last several decades.  A so-called “apology” by one Japanese political leader is usually preceded or followed by contradictory statements by other political leaders.  In other words, the Japanese government has never made a consistent statement at their highest level of government.  Usually these so-called “apologies” are made just before an important meeting with other countries’ leaders (such as Korea’s or China’s) so that the meeting will take place or can proceed more smoothly, or to deflect large amount of foreign criticism of their position.  In the recent Abe case, there has been a lot of criticism and pressure on Abe from the U.S. (including a 3/2/14 editorial of the NYT) that Abe has gone too far with respect to not acknowledging and apologizing for Japan’s war-time atrocities.

The Japanese government also likes to refer to the funds that they set up for comfort women.  However, that fund was not an official government fund (even though the Japanese government may have provided the fund to a NGO) and was not accompanied by an official government apology.  That was why most of the comfort women rejected that money.

An official apology should come from the highest level of the Japanese government, i.e., a resolution passed by the Japanese Diet and her PM, and not just from her Chief Cabinet Secretary (which was Kono’s position).  Please compare with Germany, where the apology came from her Chancellor at a public site kneeling down and apologizing.  Furthermore, it is illegal in Germany to openly question the existence of the Holocaust, while Japan is busy revising their textbooks.

Abe also recently visited and paid tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class A  convicted and executed Japanese War Criminals are enshrined.  What do you think the Western world’s reaction would be if the German Chancellor would visit and pay tribute at a site honoring Hitler?

That is why this recent statement by Abe is just another PR-like “apology” and has absolutely no meaning or significance.  This recent statement is far from what the Japanese government should do to acknowledge and apologize for the massive and inhumane atrocities the Japanese Imperial Army inflicted all over Asia during WWII.  Until that happens, it would be difficult for Japan and countries like China and Korea to have truly meaningful diplomatic dialogues.

* Quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Editorial: U.S.’s inconsistent policy and unfinished business regarding biological and chemical weapons

On August 26, 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “The use of chemical weapons in attacks on civilians in Syria last week was undeniable and that the Obama administration would hold the Syrian government accountable for a ‘moral obscenity’ that has shocked the world’s conscience.” But on the much greater ‘moral obscenity’ of massive biological and chemical weapons that Japan unleashed on China during WWII, there is much unfinished business involving the U.S. also.

During WWII, the Japanese Imperial Army deployed biological and chemical weapons in China thousands of times in over a dozen provinces, killing hundreds of thousands of Chinese and injuring many more. There are survivors who are still suffering from the damages inflicted on them about 70, 75 years ago, including the rotten-leg-disease victims 1. Biological weapons included anthrax, bubonic plague, cholera, glanders 2. Chemical weapons included mustard gas, cyanide, and other poison gases. All these biological and chemical weapons were prohibited by the Geneva Convention of 1925 which was also signed by Japan. Furthermore, there are still hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons abandoned in China by the Japanese by burying them underground or dumping them into rivers. These chemical weapons are frequently accidentally exploded killing many innocent victims and still waiting to be excavated, a responsibility required of Japan by the United Nations’ 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Sixty eight years have passed since the end of WWII, yet the Japanese government still has not officially acknowledged and apologized for the massive and inhumane atrocities that the Japanese Imperial Army committed in China and other parts of Asia during WWII. As a matter of fact, her political leaders including her prime ministers, have even denied the occurrence of these atrocities, and claimed that they were fabricated by the victims. The U.S., being the country that put Japan back on her feet after the end of WWII, has tremendous influence on Japan, and could have easily persuaded Japan to acknowledge and apologize for their WWII crimes against humanity, as was done by Germany. Not only that the U.S. has turned a blind eye on the actions or inactions of Japan, she has groomed Japan to be her junior partner to pursue her dangerous policy to surround, contain, and weaken China. The U.S. is even willing to go to war by declaring that even though the territorial sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands is unsettled, the Diaoyu Islands are under the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty. For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see the article “The U.S.’s Military-Industrial-Academic Complex”: http://www.dontow.com/2013/09/the-u-s-s-military-industrial-academic-complex/.

Turning a blind eye to such moral obscenity actually goes back to the end of WWII. The leaders and top scientists and medical doctors who ran Unit 731, Japan’s massive research center and factory of biological and chemical weapons near Harbin in Northeast China during WWII were never prosecuted. Their crimes against humanity included performing many vivisections on live humans. Why? According to the American doctor and medical historian Dr. Martin Furmanski, who researched this issue and wrote “In a disgraceful agreement with the Japanese biological weapons war criminals, the U.S. offered immunity from war crimes prosecution in exchange for the scientific data the Japanese had collected from murdering Chinese citizens, as well as citizens of other countries, both in their laboratories and in field applications. The official U.S. and Japanese policy became one of denying the existence of the Japanese biological weapons program.” 3

For the U.S. to take the high moral ground to condemn Syria’s use of chemical weapons, she must be consistent and pressure her junior partner Japan to join the rank of civilized countries by acknowledging and apologizing her massive and inhumane atrocities committed during WWII, including the extensive use of biological and chemical weapons.

1 See the article “Japan’s Biological and Chemical Warfare in China during WWII”: http://www.dontow.com/2009/04/japans-biological-and-chemical-warfare-in-china-during-wwii/.
2 See the article “Heroic and Critical Battles in Yunnan During WWII”: http://www.dontow.com/2009/08/heroic-and-critical-battles-in-yunnan-during-wwii/.
3 Dr. Martin Furmanski’s article “An Investigation of the Afflicted Area of Anthrax and Glanders Attacks by Japanese Aggressors” in the book Blood-Weeping Accusations: Records of Anthrax Victims, by Li Xiaofang, 2005.
* Quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.