Monday, February 14, 2005

60 years after defeat : Has Japan Addressed Its War Responsibility?

Hesitating again! And still jammed at another crucial
crossroad of its history, Japan claims the right to
become a permanent member of the Security Council of the
United Nations after Tokyo's contribution to recent PKO
and ODA assistance to various nations at levels that did
not reach the high amount engaged per capita by other

Re-engaged since 1985 on a nationalistic path, the
archipelago drew attention from its neighbors and
further, especially from East asian nations, China and
Korean peninsula, all of them wondering, puzzled by this
sudden Japan's commitment to international peace. Many
questioned the honesty of the development beyond what
appears to be as mere diplomatic rhetoric to gain a free
hand on world affairs without the morality code of
conduct and appropriate humanism.

One of the first example to attest of the true
intentions of the Japanese society is to look back at
what happened at the celebrations of the 50th
anniversary after World War II, after the defeat of the
Japan Imperial army and its supporters the extremists
supported by the Zaibatsu.

Today's gesture of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
bowing to the altar of the Yasukuni sanctuary where A
class war criminals are spiritually enshrined does not
desinfatuate the vigorous speculations surrounding
today's Japan re armament and total lack of apologies
for the years of invasion, crimes, misery and brutality
that its population and leaders perpetuated during half
a century. Has Japan address its war responsibility
apologized, compensated, rebuilt and gained the sound
and fair confidence of the world community? Or has
Japan launched an unapologetic attempt to white wash
Japanese war crimes and paint the Tokyo Tribunal as
retribution of the victorious? These questions are to
be thoroughly studied.

One document to help to substantiate this major point
comes from the Murayama's apology from 1995. Was it
apologetic or opportunistic? Here is the book of events
as analyzed by Pulitzer Price winner MIT Professor John
Dower :

Joel J. Legendre
Journalist, columnist, lecturer.

1 ) Introduction

Japan's former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
apologized August 15, 1995 to the victims of Japan's
aggressive war. His apology should be welcome.

However, as already been pointed out, his apology was
only a personal one. His feelings were obviously not
shared by the majority of his colleagues in the Japanese
government. He failed to make a formal and official
apology in the so-called No War Resolution. Only 26% of
the diet members supported the Resolution and 47% were
against it.

Furthermore, the ex-education minister Seisuke Okuno
managed to organize a national campaign and collected
4.5 million signatures against the Resolution.

For those who have been struggling for a genuine
reconciliation between Japan and its neighbouring
countries, their battle is not over yet, they say.

Parliament adopted no war resolution in opposition's

II ) Analysis by Professor John Dower

Japan Addresses Its War Responsibility

By John W. Dower

John W. Dower is professor of history and Henry Luce
professor of international cooperation at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In Japan as in the United States, the 50th anniversary
of World War II in Asia has provoked highly emotional
political and ideological debates. For the American
public, this surfaced most conspicuously in a bitter
controversy over how the Smithsonian Institution's Air
and Space Museum should commemorate the use of atomic
bombs and end of the Pacific War. The Japanese
counterpart to this controversy focused on the
government's appropriate political response to a
horrendous conflict for which, in the eyes of the rest
of the world, Imperial Japan bore immense

Contrary to much media commentary in the United States,
the issue of Japanese "war responsibility" has been
quite widely debated within Japan itself for many years.
These debates intensified following the death of Emperor
Hirohito in 1989, and came to a head in June of this
year with the passage by the lower house of the Diet
(Japan's bicameral parliament) of a resolution
expressing "deep remorse" for Japan's wartime actions.
International and domestic criticism of this
conspicuously qualified resolution was partially
meliorated by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's
statement of August 15, in which he expressed his
"heartfelt apology" for the damage and suffering caused
by Imperial Japan. The documents that follow here
convey a sense of the gamut of positions taken on this
divisive and volatile issue.

Document 1 is the Diet's own "unofficial" translation of
the resolution passed in the House of Representatives,
amidst great discord, on June 9. This transparently
compromised statement reflects the politically polyglot
nature of the coalition government presiding over Japan.
Originally introduced as a relatively strong apology for
Japan's wartime transgressions by the Social Democratic
Party to which Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama belongs,
the resolution was drastically watered down by the prime
minister's conservative coalition partners, most notably
the Liberal Democratic Party that governed Japan from
1955 to 1993.

The final vote on the resolution in the lower house
amply suggests the political tumult that has accompanied
this issue. Of 502 representatives (nine seats in the
House are presently vacant), only 251 actually
participated in the vote, of whom 230 supported the
resolution. Opposition votes included fourteen members
of the Japan Communist Party, who desired a much
stronger statement of Japan's war responsibility. Some
241 members of the House abstained from voting,
including 70 representatives who were affiliated with
one of the three parties in the shaky ruling coalition
cabinet that sponsored the resolution. Over 50 of these
dissenting coalition members belonged to the
conservative Liberal Democratic Party; they felt that
the resolution still went too far. On the other hand,
fourteen Socialists abstained on the grounds that it did
not go far enough. The greatest number of abstaining
representatives (141) belonged to the Shinshinto (New
Frontier Party), at least some of whose members desired
a stronger statement. A few members of the House were
not present for reasons having nothing to do with the
resolution per se.

The resolution as passed contains several conspicuous
features. Japanese colonialism and aggression is placed
in the larger context of "modern" colonialism and
aggression by other powers (implicitly "the West"). The
word "apology" (shazai or owabi) is conspicuously absent
from the final statement. And the "deep remorse" (fukai
hansei) expressed for the suffering Imperial Japan
caused other peoples is explicitly identified as
referring primarily to Japan's Asian neighbors.

Document 2 is a concise expression of conservative
opposition to any unqualified acknowledgment of and
apology for Japanese war behavior. This was circulated
nationwide as a petition beginning around February 1995,
and its sponsors - an ad hoc "Citizen’s Movement
Committee on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of the
War" - claimed to ultimately have collected some five
million supporting signatures.

The petition conveys two sentiments that loom large in
all conservative arguments: (1) resistance to any
statement suggesting Japan has been a uniquely
aggressive nation in the modern world (and, with this,
implicit resentment at the perceived double standards of
nations and peoples who criticize Japan without
acknowledging their own imperialist histories and
occasionally atrocious behaviors); and (2) deep
patriotic concern that unqualified condemnation of
Japan's role in the China and Pacific wars blasphemes
the memory of approximately 2 million Japanese "heroes"
(eirei) who bravely and loyally gave their lives for
their country.

Apart from visceral patriotism, this conservative
anxiety also rests on eminently practical concerns. In
speaking of the "one- sided" resolution as a source of
trouble for the future, the petition obliquely evokes
the spectre of both declining nationalism and foreign
lawsuits. Unqualified self-criticism of Japan's
objectives and behavior in the war, it is feared, will
undermine the patriotism of future generations. At the
same time, an official acknowledgment of responsibility
for causing suffering to the nationals of other
countries could well become the basis for lawsuits by
any number of surviving victims of Imperial Japan's war
machine (women forced into sexual slavery, individuals
such as Koreans who were conscripted for forced labor,
victims of military atrocities, abused Allied POWs,
etc.). Demands for individual compensation or
reparations for such foreigners already have emerged
both from abroad and (as seen in Document 6) from within
Japan itself.

Document 3, an editorial from the Sankei newspaper on
June 10, condemning the Diet resolution, conveys the
conservative position in greater detail. Much like
American conservatives who attacked those who criticized
the use the atomic bombs as being doctrinaire
"anti-American" leftists, the Sankei tars the Socialists
and other Japanese who condemn Japan's war behavior
without qualification, and who generally trace Japanese
aggression back to the first Sino-Japanese war in the
mid- 1890s, for embracing an "anti-national" or
"anti-Japanese" (hankokumin) ideology.

More striking - and probably more surprising to most
non- Japanese - the Sankei editorial also reflects a
basic line of attack that conservatives in general
directed against the Diet resolution: the argument that
it contravened the very essence of parliamentary
democracy to issue a dogmatic statement purporting to
reflect the viewpoint of the people as a whole. This
gives an interesting twist to the domestic debate, in
that those who espouse the most "conservative" position
concerning Japan's war responsibility have found it
expedient to do so by presenting themselves as champions
of a truly pluralistic "democracy."

Document 4, a critique of the Diet resolution from the
June 8 issue of Akahata, the newspaper of the Japan
Communist Party, provides a fair sample of the left-wing
position concerning Japan's war responsibility. This is
an argument elaborated in great detail, and with many
nuances, in a large body of Japanese historical writing
on World War II in Asia, where Marxist and neo-Marxist
perspectives have been conspicuous ever since Japan's
defeat in 1945. Ironically, the critique of Japanese
imperialism and aggression by Japanese Marxists probably
most closely approximates the unqualified condemnation
of Japanese aggression espoused by non-Japanese

Although not addressed to the Diet resolution per se,
Document 5 provides an excellent example of the manner
in which progressive Japanese scholars attempted to use
the fiftieth anniversary of the war to, first,
acknowledge Japan's own deep war responsibility in
specific terms; and then, second, speak to the larger
issues of war and peace in general. This appeal,
originally drafted by over thirty academics in March
1995, was one of the few attempts worldwide to transcend
national fixations and mobilize international opinion on
these matters. Signatures were solicited from scholars
throughout both Asia and the West.

Document 6, dated June 30 and signed by 137 generally
well-known academics and public figures, provides a
sample of liberal and left-wing citizen's movements
which not only call for frank acknowledgment of Japan's
specific war crimes, but also demand compensation or
"reparations" for the individual victims of these
depredations. Like most such Japanese pronouncements,
whether from the left or right of the political
spectrum, the focus is on Japan's Asian victims. In
recent years, particularly after the issue of Asian
women forced to serve as sexual "comfort women" (ianfu)
for the Imperial forces became widely publicized in
Japan, popular support for such compensation has been
substantial. A poll conducted earlier this year, for
example, found the remarkably high number of 80 percent
of respondents in favor of such material acknowledgment
of Japan's war responsibility (see, for example, the New
York Times of March 6, 1995).

Document 7, the prime minister's statement on the
fiftieth anniversary of Japan's capitulation, was widely
heralded abroad as the country's "first" clear and
explicit apology for Imperial Japan's colonial rule and
aggressive acts. The key phrase is the expression of
feelings of "profound remorse" (tsusetsu na hansei) and
"heartfelt apology" (kokoro kara no owabi), most
particularly the latter phrase. There is no doubt that
this is a document of historical importance, and will be
widely cited in the future. It is not, however, an
unprecedented statement. Two years previously, on
August 23, 1993, the then prime minister Morihiro
Hosokawa made a similar albeit terser statement before
the Diet expressing "deep remorse and apology" (fukai
hansei to owabi) for these same acts.

Whatever one may make of these individual statements in
and of themselves, viewed together they convey an
impression of serious domestic engagement with
fundamental issues concerning Japan's past, present and
future. This is not the impression we usually get from
the U.S. media, with its rather formulaic and
monolithic fixation on "the Japanese" and their
"historical amnesia." As these documents also suggest,
this highly emotional debate obviously transcends the
50th anniversary year. It is predictable that it will
continue for many years to come - and predictable also
that there never will be unanimity within Japan on the
question of war responsibility.

Document 1

Resolution to Renew the Determination for Peace on the
Basis of Lessons Learned from History

June 9, 1995

(Unofficial translation by the Secretariat of the Japan
House of Representatives)

The House of Representatives resolves as follows:

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of
World War II, this House offers its sincere condolences
to those who fell in action of wars and similar actions
all over the world.

Solemnly reflecting upon many instances of colonial rule
and acts of aggression in the modern history of the
world, and recognizing that Japan carried out those acts
in the past, inflicting pain and suffering upon the
peoples of other countries, especially in Asia, the
Members of this House express a sense of deep remorse.

We must transcend differences over historical views of
the past war and learn humbly the lessons of history so
as to build a peaceful international society.

This House expresses its resolve, under the banner of
eternal peace enshrined in the Constitution of Japan, to
join hands with other nations of the world and to pave
the way to a future that allows all human beings to live

Return to article

Document 2

A Petition to Oppose the "Diet Resolution of Remorse and
Apology" that One-Sidedly Condemns Our Country's War.

(Translated by Tomomi Yamaguchi)

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary (Heisei 7
[1995]) of the end of the War, there are plans for a
Diet resolution that one-sidedly condemns our country
for the war and expresses our "remorse" and "apology" to
the relevant nations.

Such a resolution means that, as an expression of our
nation's will, we declare domestically and
internationally that in the history of the world our
country alone bears war responsibility and is a criminal
nation. This inevitably harms the honor of our nation
and race (minzoku), desecrates our heroes who died for
the nation at its time of crisis, and will become a
grave source of trouble for the future of our country
and people. We oppose this Diet Resolution and offer
the following petition. Your consideration is


We strongly demand that the Diet uphold its conscience
as the institution possessing the highest authority in
the nation, and never adopt a resolution of "remorse"
and "apology" that one-sidedly condemns our country's
war, as has been planned for the fiftieth anniversary of
the war's end.

To: The Speaker of the House of Representatives The
Chairman of the House of Councilors

Citizen's Movement Committee on the Fiftieth Anniversary
of the End of the War.

Return to article Document 3:

Editorial from Sankei Shimbun, June 7, 1995

A compromised proposal that lacks wisdom

We cannot judge history based on the resolution in the
House of Representatives

(Translated by Tomomi Yamaguchi)

The three ruling parties compromised over the resolution
by the House on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary
of the end of the war. Properly, this evaluation of the
past war should be judged objectively by the historians
of the future. However, as we typically see in any
decision- making processes in the House, it was decided
on a basis of compromise that takes the average of the
two opposing positions. We have to claim that the
making of the resolution is a very insincere and
political deal, lacking a humble attitude toward

One's historical view is an issue of "thought" that
belongs to an individual's very inner domain. Thus, we
have consistently been insisting that the House, which
is the institution possessing the highest power in the
nation, should not offer standardized historical
evaluations or ethical value judgments on past history.
We insist on this because the citizens of Japan do not
assign to the House such an act that goes beyond its
supposed function as a legislature.

Even if supposedly we have to put some historical
considerations into the resolution, it is careless of
the House to include such words as "acts of aggression"
[shinryakuteki koï] or "colonial rule" [shokuminchi
shihai], without considering the multifaceted nature of
the war (the belligerents, the area, the details about
how the war was initiated, the content of the colonial
rule), and the long history before the war.

Is it permissible for the House to impose a very facile
"remorse" [hansei] upon future generations of Japanese
citizens, even though the resolution does not take the
data from existing empirical research into account, and
there are still many issues that we have to wait for
historians to resolve?

The discussion in the House was centered on the
expressions such as "aggression" and "colonies." As a
result of negotiation and compromise by the Liberal
Democrats and the Socialists, these words came to have
equivocal and thus unclear meanings in the resolution.
However, it could cause trouble for the future that the
fair historical evaluation by the Liberal Democratic
Party -- which explains that it was inevitable for Japan
to make a mistake in order to protect the security of
the country given the situation of Asia at the time,
which was being threatened by the Great Powers of the
world -- was forced to be changed by the Socialist

At the same time, certainly we were able to avoid the
arguments that make Japan out to be an absolute evil, or
that reject the value of wars for self- protection,
because the naming of the resolution was changed to
"Resolution to Renew the Determination for Peace on the
Basis of Lessons Learned from History," and words like
"apology" or "renunciation of war" were eliminated from
the text.

However, any resolutions by the House, composed of the
representatives of the people, are supposed to mean "the
consensus of the people." Can we really say that the
content of the agreement by the three parties is "the
consensus of the people?" In fact, public opinion is
split. We also cannot ignore the importance of
movements opposed to the resolution that blames Japan as
an evil country, as we can see in the campaign that has
obtained signatures of five million people.

Moreover, the resolution lacks the basic condition that
should be fulfilled in order to be established as a
resolution by the House. The principle of resolution is
unanimous agreement, but in fact, individual Diet
Members have diverse opinions on the war. If diverse
opinions of individual Diet Members are forced to be
absorbed into an party-level agreement in the
resolution-making process, the "conscience" of the
Congress people who are not willing to compromise is
completely ignored. This process does not follow the
principle of parliamentary democracy.

If it is compelling that there be a resolution of the
Diet, it should be nothing other than a resolution which
expresses sorrow to those Asians who died during the
war, and our resolve to contribute to the international
community as a nation of peace by a high level of
ideological expression without stepping imprudently into
interpretations of history.

The essence of the compromise by the ruling parties is
nothing but the maintenance of the coalition government.
Although the so- called agreement by the three parties
does not contain words such as "aggression" and
"colonies," the Liberal Democratic Party ended up
accepting the masochistic historical view of the
Socialist Party that is obviously thinking only of its
own advantage, because the LDP is so attached to being a
ruling party.

The historical view of the Socialist Party is a very
extreme "anti-Japan historical view" that considers "all
the wars since the Sino-Japanese War [of 1894-5] as wars
of aggression," and the post-war financial compensation
and Overseas Developmental Aid (ODA) as only having
profited Japanese corporations. Considering the
essential nature of this party, this view is nothing but
an "anti-national" ideology.

Through this compromise, the Liberal Democratic Party
actually "shared" the Socialist's viewpoint. The
conservatives are supposed to respect a balanced view of
history, pass down what they should from generation to
generation, and protect good traditional culture.
However, the LDP's compromise means that they abandoned
their responsibilities as conservatives and,
emphatically, it is on this issue that their true
remorse should be expressed.

Furthermore, we think that the people may distrust
politics more because politicians are mainly concerned
with preserving the coalition government and benefiting
their own parties.

The focus from now on will move to the arrangement with
the New Frontier Party regarding the content of the
resolution. However, there are Diet Members within the
New Frontier Party who oppose the very fact that the
House is conducting an evaluation of history. Their
claim is that we should avoid having the resolution by
the House, and that instead we should limit it to the
"party declarations" proposed voluntarily by each
political party.

Considering the current situation, we agree that this is
the most rational approach. We demand that politics
regain the proper wisdom that it has lost.

Return to article Document 4:

Editorial from Akahata, the newspaper of the Japanese
Communist Party, June 8, 1995

Ruling Parties' "No-War Resolution" Draft Acquits War of

On the draft Diet resolution marking the 50th
anniversary of the end of World War II, which was agreed
on June 6 by the three ruling coalition parties, the
Japanese commercial press has generally appreciated it,
saying it includes such words as "aggression," "colonial
rule" and "regret." But Akahata on June 8 rejects such
an evaluation, saying that the ruling coalition's draft
resolution is far from reflecting the Japanese
militarist war of aggression. In fact, the paper said,
it acquits the war of aggression by arguing that both
the fascist and militarist states and the anti-fascist
forces were to blame for World War II.

The draft resolution of the ruling parties describes the
position as though Japan's "colonial rule" and "acts of
aggression" were part of the general trend in "modern
world history." The draft makes neither a concrete
reference to nor a clear apology for Japan's colonial
rule of Korea and Taiwan and the war of aggression
against China and the South East Asian countries, though
the draft expresses "deep regret" for "such acts" that
"we carried out." On this basis it is natural that the
Asian countries are criticizing the draft.

All the drafts of the Liberal Democratic Party, the
Social Democratic Party of Japan and Sakigake
(Harbinger) had in common the attempt to rationalize the
war of aggression as a "confrontation between the
powers." The word "powers" is not used in the agreed
draft. But asked what the phrase "looking back at the
various instances of colonial rule and acts of
aggression" means, SDPJ Secretary General Wataru Kubo
admitted on June 6 that "it is a historical fact that
there were numerous instances of colonial rule and acts
of aggression by the states which are described as

This clearly shows that the draft resolution of the
ruling parties was written to rationalize Japan's past
war of aggression, just giving it as another example of
"colonial rule and acts of aggression" by the powers.
But World War II was a war in which Japan, Germany and
Italy as the fascist and militarist states waged war of
aggression in Asia and Europe, and against this, many
nations in the world formed an alliance against their
aggression and fascism. It was different in character
from wars "in modern world history" like World War I, in
which the imperialist powers fought each other for
colonies and spheres of interest.

The draft by the ruling parties distorts these
historical facts by describing the position as though
both the aggressor states and the nations which fought
them were to blame. It is necessary to make such an
argument to make Japan's responsibility for the war of
aggression clear.

In addition, in the meeting of the ruling parties, the
Liberal Democratic Party eulogized about the
Asia-Pacific War launched by Japan, saying that it was
for the "safety of our country." It is just the same
argument of "self-existence and self-defense" used by
the Tenno [Emperor] government and the military at the
time which advocated that "now the Empire, for
self-existence and self-defense, must rise determinedly
to surmount all obstacles" (Pacific War Imperial

The ruling coalition's position that both sides are to
blame can lead to the conclusion that also the war of
aggression which Japan waged was necessary for
"self-existence and self-defense" against the "colonial
rule and acts of aggression" by the powers.

The draft Diet resolution of the three ruling coalition
parties only says that some nations in the world carried
out "colonial rule and acts of aggression." Furthermore,
the passage, it must "go beyond our different historical
perceptions of the war," indicates that they think there
can be various ways of thinking about Japan's war. This
denies the historical fact that Japan initiated and
waged the war of aggression for the purpose of expanding
its territory and extending its sphere of influence. At
the same time, it shows that the three ruling parties do
not even recognize that Japan played the role as one of
the key initiators of World War II.

Japan's war of aggression cannot be described as
"colonial rule and acts of aggression," nor can it be
rationalized as part of the general trend at the time.
The war in Asia and the Pacific began with Japan's
aggression in the North-Eastern Region of China (the
Manchurian Incident) in 1931, the purpose of which was
to completely resolve the situation in "Manchuria" and
Mongolia to make them Japanese territory, as Seishiro
Itagaki, the Japanese Kwantung army chief of staff, said
that Japan could greatly increase its power when it
definitely included China as part of its territory, and
could grasp the key for peace in the Orient and get
ready for the future battle for world conquest. This
clearly shows that at the time Japan had the intention
to participate in the world war.

In the war started in 1941 against the United States,
Britain and the Netherlands, Japan initiated an "Outline
Administration in the Southern Occupied Lands" and while
expanding the war it said that the purpose of the
occupation was to get immediately important resources
for national security to ensure self-sufficiency for the
operational troops.

Japan waged the war while at the same time it cruelly
exploited and dominated by military force the people in
Asia and the Pacific nations.

The ruling coalition parties' draft resolution is
criticized (by the British Broadcasting Corporation)
because it weakens the recognition of Japan's criminal
actions by saying that other powers did the same thing
as Japan. To attempt to rationalize Japan's war of
aggression which has historically been defined as a war
of aggression will only debase history and show contempt
for the people of Asia.

The war Japan started was undeniably a war of aggression
from both the historical and international point of
view. This is why the beginning of post-war
international politics was based on deep reflection
about the war of aggression and the acceptance of
Japan's guilt.

The Potsdam Declaration which Japan accepted says in its
Article 6, "There must be eliminated for all time the
authority and influence of those who have deceived and
misled the people of Japan into embarking on world
conquest." Also, the decision of the International
Military Tribunal for the Far East which Japan accepted
in the San Francisco "Peace" Treaty pointed out that the
attack Japan started on December 7, 1941 against
Britain, the United States of America and the
Netherlands was a war of aggression.

The United Nations Charter at the same time says in
Article 53 that the Security Council "provided
regional arrangements directed against renewal of
aggressive policy on the part of any such (enemy)

Japan's post-war politics took a step forward when the
Japanese people reflected on the war and "resolved that
never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war
through the action of our government." (Preamble,
Japan's Constitution)

The draft resolution of the ruling parties denies the
starting point of post-war international politics
because it acquits those responsible for Japan's war of
aggression by saying that Japan's action was just part
of the general trend in "modern world history."

Return to article

Document 5:

Japan Committee to Appeal for World Peace 1995 (Issued
March, 1995)

Proposal for an International Appeal for Global Peace on
the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of
World War II

Fifty years are about to pass since the conclusion of
World War II, which brought unimaginable suffering to
peoples throughout the world. The passage of months and
years that now amount to half a century compels us to
mourn all of the war's victims, irrespective of which
side they were on during the war, and to renew our
resolution never to repeat the tragedy of war.

It is regrettable, however, that among the various
events being planned throughout the world in
commemoration of the 50th-year anniversary, there are
some that threaten to exacerbate mutual mistrust by
emphasizing the differing position at the time of the
war. Forty years ago, in 1955, Bertrand Russell and
Albert Einstein warned that the elimination of war will
remain difficult so long as our sense of common humanity
remains ambiguous and abstract.

As individuals engaged in scholarly and cultural
activities in Japan, we believe it necessary to first
clearly promote self- reflection on Japan's war
responsibility in the Asia-Pacific War. Based on this,
we then wish to present an international appeal that
clarifies common ground for working toward global peace.
By obtaining the support of many people throughout the
world, it is our desire to turn this 50th-year
anniversary into an opportunity to strengthen
international public opinion in support of world peace.

As a prelude to our proposal for international appeal,
we offer the following reflections concerning Japan's
war responsibility:

First, it is obvious that the Asia-Pacific War began
with the invasion of China, starting with the
"Manchurian Incident" of September 1931, and subsequent
military invasion of Southeast Asian countries that were
European and U.S. colonies. We recognize that apology
and compensation for damages to the Asian peoples whom
we victimized are necessary.

Second, at that time in Japan there was a tendency to
regard the European and American colonial powers as
"have" (as opposed to "have- not") countries, and to
demand a redistribution of colonial possessions. Such
an attitude neglected the demands for national
self-determination that had been on the rise since World
War I, however, and is anachronistic in the
post-World-War-II world. Keeping in mind the fact that
1995 is also the 100th year since the conclusion of the
first Sino-Japanese War, we believe self- reflection is
necessary concerning Japan's own colonial rule, which
started in Formosa (Taiwan) in 1895 and was extended to
Korea in 1910.

Third, against a background of confrontation concerning
Japan's aggression against China and Indochina, Japan
commenced war against the Allied Powers in December 1941
with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (while a notice
to terminate Japan-U.S. negotiations was delayed in the
Japanese embassy), coupled with a military assault on
the Malay Peninsula. We give serious consideration to
the fact that these actions have caused prolonged U.S.
distrust of Japan. If Japan is to take a position of
seeking peaceful solutions to disputes in today's world,
we believe that it is more than ever necessary to
clearly self-reflect upon our responsibility for
starting the war.

Fourth, heart-felt apology and self-reflection are
necessary concerning the mass slaughter of civilians
symbolized by the "Nanjing Massacre," as well as the
atrocious treatment of Allied prisoners of war and
civilian captives such as took place in the "Bataan
Death March." The Asia-Pacific War, which caused
enormous suffering in neighboring countries, also was
accompanied by indescribable sacrifices on the part of
the Japanese people, as symbolized by Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. As a result, a common consciousness of "no
more war" became widespread in post-defeat Japan, and
the country chose the path of concentrating on economic
recovery while avoiding foreign disputes as much as

As a result, until quite recently Japanese have tended
to emphasize their own victimization while neglecting
their role as victimizers who brought enormous suffering
to foreigners and foreign countries. That is, it cannot
be denied that peace consciousness in post-war Japan has
had the limitation of being self-centered. This can be
seen, for example, in the fact that post-war government
compensation policies for individual war victims applied
only to Japanese.

In the 1990s, however, problems such as the "military
comfort women" became widely known and Japanese public
opinion in support of apologizing to foreign war victims
and providing compensation to them has risen
conspicuously. Also, in recent years local public
peace-memorial centers such as those in Hiroshima and
Okinawa have begun to address not only Japanese
suffering but also the suffering of non-Japanese. In
this 50th year since Japan's defeat, we recognize that
it is necessary to strengthen this trend whereby peace
consciousness transcends the boundaries of "one-country"

Thus, on this historically important juncture of the
fiftieth anniversary of Japan's defeat, we urge the
Japanese government and Diet to carry out the following
five-part agenda:

By August 15, 1995, officially do the following: clearly
articulate the government's self-reflection on Japan's
responsibility for past colonial rule as well as the
Asia-Pacific War, which caused enormous suffering both
outside and within the country; express renewed
resolution to uphold Article Nine of the Constitution
and never invade the territory of other countries;
resolve to act as a thoroughly peaceful nation by taking
the initiative to work for peaceful dispute resolution
and armaments reduction in the future.

Make efforts to make the miserable realities of the war
known to the world by, first, releasing to the public
all official documents and pertinent materials possessed
by the Japanese side, and second, assisting in the
identification and maintenance of materials pertaining
to war damages in other countries, especially in Asia.

Set up appropriate mechanisms within the government and
Diet to quickly investigate war damages to foreigners;
apologize to such confirmed victims, and provide early
compensation to them; quickly take measures to also
establish national compensation to Japanese civilian war
victims who have been neglected up to now, such as
victims of conventional air raids as well as atomic

To ensure that younger generations without war
experience will possess accurate historical
consciousness, make efforts to provide historical
education concerning the Asia-Pacific War based on sound
scholarship; also, in constructing memorial facilities
such as the presently contemplated "Peace Prayer Hall,"
always include exhibits dealing with the causes and
realities of suffering in foreign countries.

Make widely known to the world the terrible human
experience of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic-bomb
victims, and also the realities of survivors of postwar
nuclear experiments such as in the Bikini Incident of
1954. At the same time, with the ultimate end in view
of prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons by
international law and attaining the early abolishment of
nuclear arsenals, take the lead by passing legislation
affirming Japan's "three non-nuclear principles"
(prohibiting the production or possession of nuclear
weapons, or their being brought into Japan by another

With the understanding that we ourselves will engage in
self-reflection on Japan's war responsibility, and will
present the above concrete proposals to the Japanese
government and Diet, we offer the International Appeal
for Peace that is presented separately here.

International Appeal for Global Peace on the Occasion of
the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of World War II

It soon will be 50 years since the end of World War II,
which caused enormous suffering to peoples throughout
the world. We believe that this fiftieth anniversary
should not be observed in ways that reinforce the enmity
and mistrust associated with different positions during
the war. Rather, it should be commemorated in a manner
that turns the tragic war experience in the direction of
building future peace for humanity. With this in mind,
we propose the following eight principles:

Upon the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of
the war, we pledge that, once having clearly established
the responsibility of the Axis countries that started
the war, we will mourn all war victims irrespective of
nationality or race and make efforts to ensure that such
enormous sacrifices will never be repeated.

We take seriously the fact that even today, after 50
years, many questions remain concerning accurate numbers
of war victims and the actual extent of war damages.
Thus, we urge the countries involved to continue to
investigate these matters and release pertinent
information both domestically and internationally.

We also take note of the fact that there still remain
war victims who even to the present day have not
received appropriate apologies and just compensation. We
thus request that the former Axis countries involved
investigate these matters and hasten to extend apologies
and compensation for individual damages that are

Recalling that one of the cause of the war was mutual
mistrust among the various countries, we consider it
important to promote international exchanges concerning
historical education and the like, with the ultimate
objective of promoting mutual trust as well as education
for peace and human rights in all countries.

In making available materials that show the realities of
war suffering and damages, we believe that such
presentations should reflect sound scholarship. At the
same time, efforts should be made to enlarge the common
ground of historical perception by mutually exchanging
materials and information even when positions during the
war may have been antagonistic. In particular, in the
case of the Asia-Pacific theater, more exhibitions would
be held in Japan to publicize atrocities against
foreigners symbolized by such incidents as the "Nanjing
Massacre" and "Bataan Death March." In the United
States, exhibitions depicting such matters as the
atomic- bomb damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be

Keeping in mind that the war marked the final defeat of
fascism, we think it important to reaffirm the value of
freedom, human rights, and democracy for all people, and
to commit ourselves to eliminate discrimination based on
race, nationality, religion, or gender.

We give serious consideration to the fact that in the
final stage of the war atomic bombs were used for the
first time in history, victimizing many non-combatants
and symbolically inaugurating a nuclear era in which the
very existence of humanity is imperiled. We deem it
necessary to increase recognition of the inhumanity of
nuclear weapons and work for their abolishment.

To turn the lessons of the tragic war in the direction
of future world peace, it is our hope that each nation,
taking advantage of organization such as the United
Nations, energetically pursues ways to peacefully
resolve disputes while, at the same time, making efforts
to overcome the poverty and environmental destruction
that tend to give rise to conflict.

It is our hope that many people, irrespective or
nationality or race, will support these eight principles
and make efforts to realize them in their own country.
In working for a lasting peace for all humanity, we
believe it is important to mutually understand the
different meanings of peace consciousness that may exist
among different peoples. Thus, in addition to
soliciting your support of this appeal, we also welcome
your comments.

[Signatures of 35 Japanese university professors]

Return to article

Document 6:

Statement with the signatures of 137 well-known
academics and public figures, handed over to Prime
Minister Tomiichi Murayama on June 30, 1995

We Urge the Japanese Government to Make Compensation
without Further Delay

The colonial domination and the war of aggression
perpetrated by Imperial Japan left an enormous number of
people in Asia, particularly on the Korean Peninsula and
in China, still suffering from incurable wounds of mind
and body. However diverse may be the views on history
held by Japanese, no one can deny the unmistakable
presence of these victimized people.

Among such victims are the former "comfort women" and
the forcibly drafted Asian workers, who were enslaved by
the Japanese state in complete violation of their
dignity as human beings, and compulsorily subject to
unbearable torment and humiliation. It is self-evident
that they are entitled to compensation by the Japanese

Through a critical self-examination of the last
militarist war, Japan in the post-war period has been
striving to be reborn as a democratic nation based on
the idea of universal human rights. As stated in the
Constitution, democracy is "a universal principle of
humankind," and universal human rights should be
respected regardless of the difference in nationality.
Compensation by the Japanese state for the grave
infringements on human rights committed by it against
Asian peoples could, therefore, stand as its testimony
before world public opinion that it has transformed
itself from militarism into a democracy.

Nevertheless, no compensatory measures for these
victimized individuals have been taken by the Japanese
government up to the present. On the occasion of the
fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, we urge
the government to fulfill its responsibility at least to
these two categories of people, even though there are
other victims as well. No further delay is permissible
in view of the aging of these people.

If the government decides to make compensation to these
individuals in the name of the Japanese state, we, as
citizens of Japan, will be willing to cooperate by
soliciting private contributions. We do not support the
"Asian Peace and Friendship Fund for Women" recently
publicized by the government, however, because it is
intended to replace state indemnities by private
donations. This is a formula which is utterly
inappropriate and is bound to fail to meet the claim of
the victims.

Knowing that even state compensation will be far from
sufficient to cure the profound wounds inflicted on
these people, we sincerely seek their forgiveness,
hoping that the state compensation will serve as a token
of our apologies. At the same time, we must confess
that we are deeply ashamed of the persistent evasion of
war responsibility committed by the governments and the

Standing at a crossroads of historic significance 50
years after the end of World War II, we urge the
Japanese government to express an unequivocal apology
and take concrete steps towards making due compensation
to the victimized people so that the Japanese people
may, in the words of the Constitution, "occupy an
honored place in international society."

Return to article

Document 7

Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama

The world has seen 50 years elapse since the war came to
an end. Now, when I remember the many people both at
home and abroad who fell victim to war, my heart is
overwhelmed by a flood of emotions.

The peace and prosperity of today were built as Japan
overcame great difficulty to arise from a devastated
land after defeat in war. That achievement is something
of which we are proud, and let me herein express my
heartfelt admiration for the wisdom and untiring effort
of each and every one of our citizens. Let me also
express once again my profound gratitude for the
indispensable support and assistance extended to Japan
by the countries of the world, beginning with the United
States of America. I am also delighted that we have
been able to build the friendly relations which we enjoy
today with the neighboring countries of the Asia-Pacific
region, the United States and the countries of Europe.

Now that Japan has come to enjoy peace and abundance, we
tend to overlook the pricelessness and blessings of
peace. Our task is to convey to younger generations the
horrors of war, so that we never repeat the errors in
our history. I believe that, as we join hands,
especially with the peoples of neighboring countries, to
ensure true peace in the Asia- Pacific region -- indeed
in the entire world -- it is necessary, more than
anything else, that we foster relations with all
countries based on deep understanding and trust. Guided
by this conviction, the Government has launched the
Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative, which
consists of two parts promoting: support for historical
research into relations in the modern era between Japan
and the neighboring countries of Asia and elsewhere; and
rapid expansion of exchanges with those countries.
Furthermore, I will continue in all sincerity to do my
utmost in efforts being made on the issues arisen from
the war, in order to further strengthen the relations of
trust between Japan and those countries.

Now, upon this historic occasion of the 50th anniversary
of the war's end, we should bear in mind that we must
look into the past to learn from the lessons of history,
and ensure that we do not stray from the path to the
peace and prosperity of human society in the future.

During a certain period in the not too distant past,
Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced
along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese
people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial
rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and
suffering to the people of many countries, particularly
to those of Asian nations. 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 here once again my feelings of deep remorse and
state my heartfelt apology. Allow me also to express my
feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at
home and abroad, of that history.

Building from our deep remorse on this occasion of the
50th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan must
eliminate self-righteous nationalism, promote
international coordination as a responsible member of
the international community and, thereby, advance the
principles of peace and democracy. At the same time, as
the only country to have experienced the devastation of
atomic bombing, Japan, with a view to the ultimate
elimination of nuclear weapons, must actively strive to
further global disarmament in areas such as the
strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
It is my conviction that in this way alone can Japan
atone for its past and lay to rest the spirits of those
who perished.

It is said that one can rely on good faith. And so, at
this time of remembrance, I declare to the people of
Japan and abroad my intention to make good faith the
foundation of our Government policy, and this is my vow.

End of quotes

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