Koizumi's visits boost controversial version of history





Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's fifth visit to the Yasukuni shrine this week on a drizzly morning set off angry protests in Asia. China canceled a visit by the Japanese foreign minister, no small thing. Yasukuni holds the remains of 14 Class A war criminals hanged after World War II, and is regarded as symbol of Japan's perceived failure to atone for its killing sprees in and brutal occupation of Asia 60 years ago.

Yet a prime reason why that wish may not come true is found on the grounds of the shrine, a few paces from where Koizumi dropped a coin and prayed. It is a boxy refurbished museum called the Yushukan, whose self-professed aim is to "shed a new light on modern Japanese history."

Yet a prime reason why that wish may not come true is found on the grounds of the shrine, a few paces from where Koizumi dropped a coin and prayed. It is a boxy refurbished museum called the Yushukan, whose self-professed aim is to "shed a new light on modern Japanese history."

In fact, the museum appears to be regularizing an extremist narrative about Japan's 20th-century military behavior and role in Asia. No mention is made of Japanese soldiers subjugating Asia and its populations. Rather, the new history portrays Japan as both the martyr and savior of Asia, the one country willing to drive "the foreign barbarians," as one panel describes them, from the Orient.

The unapologetic nationalism, emperor worship, and military glorification offer graphic clues about why Asians remain concerned about "the lessons learned" by Japan after the war, to borrow the phrase used often in post-Nazi Germany.

This week, after Koizumi visited the shrine, thousands of Japanese paid $10 to visit Yushukan, with its 20 rooms, high-tech displays, and two theaters. They saw and heard that Japan occupied China and Korea in order to liberate and protect Asia from Russian Bolshevism and European colonialism. They were told the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was "forced" by "a plot" by President Roosevelt. Japanese-led massacres, Korean comfort women, Chinese sex slaves, or tortured POWs are not mentioned. There are only Japanese martyr heroes dying in defense of Japan.

"Ten years ago that museum contained some expressions of regret and remorse for the loss of life, both Japanese and foreign," says Richard Bitzinger of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. "Back then there wasn't an effort to tell a story about the war. Now, it is revisionist. A whitewash. Major battles where many thousands lost their lives on both sides are simply called Japanese 'operations' or 'incidents.' "


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Jerry West - 10/21/2005

Another story relating to this topic:

http://www.counterpunch.org/reed10192005.html

I think that it is wrong for not only Japan, but anyone to distort history. In condemning Japan we should not lose track of the fact that all countries, including the US are guilty of similar crimes of distortion and cover up, as well as some of the human rights abuses that the Japanese are being attacked for ignoring.

The Rape of Nanking, though larger in scale than many other inhumane events, is in the same class as a vast number of actions by the US and other nations over the decades right up to the present day.

History News Network