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星期二, 三月 27, 2007


The Use and Abuse of the Past
World View: Hideaki Kase

By Hideaki Kase
Newsweek International

History is a hot topic in Japan these days, with the country's wartime behavior returning to haunt its citizens. Many Japanese are dismayed by the possibility that the U.S. House of Representatives will soon demand a formal apology from Tokyo for the imperial military's alleged use of "comfort women," or sex slaves, during World War II. This talk has taken the Japanese government by surprise, especially given its unprecedented support for Washington in Iraq and the war onterrorism.

The world can't comprehend why Japan is reluctant to say sorry once more. But most Japanese can't understand why issues like the comfort women or the Nanking Massacre have resurfaced at all. Since World War II, the country has abided by the pacifism forced on it by the U.S. occupation. To promote such peacefulness, the Japanese media and intellectuals created an image of Japan as a warlike place that had to be prevented from rearming at all costs. To heighten the danger, the media also exaggerated or even invented wretched acts supposedly committed by Japan's imperial forces.

In the first years after the nation's surrender in 1945, many of its citizens found this imposed meekness hard to take. In 1952, for example, the Diet unanimously called for the men convicted by the Allied war-criminal trials to be treated the same as those honorably killed or injured on the battlefield. Half of Japan's then population signed petitions calling for the immediate release of incarcerated war criminals, and the major political parties of the day refused to accept any war guilt.

By the 1970s, however, this resistance began to diminish as memories of the war faded and the economy began to boom. Intoxicated by its unprecedented affluence, Japan was willing to ask forgiveness of its neighbors if this proved good for business. In 1993, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized for Japan's having coerced women into prostitution during the war. Three years later, on the 50th anniversary of Japan's surrender, the Socialist Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama acknowledged that Japanese aggression during the war had caused "tremendous damage and suffering" to many Asian countries.

In recent years, however, long-dormant nationalism has begun to rise again due to several factors. First, during the economic slump that extended into the early part of this decade, the benefits of apologizing became less clear. Second, the conservative prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is 53, and the bulk of his cabinet and aides are in their 40s and 50s. Most don't understand why they should do penance for events that occurred before they were born.

Japanese nationalism has also been revived by China's alarming military buildup and North Korea's nascent nuclear threat. And it has spiked in response to the way Japan's neighbors seem to be exploiting bad history for present gain. Seoul did not even raise the comfort-women issue, for example, when it normalized relations with Tokyo in 1965; it was Japanese leftists who finally broached the topic in the 1980s.

The fact is that the brothels were commercial establishments. U.S. Army records explicitly declare that the comfort women were prostitutes, and found no instances of "kidnapping" by the Japanese authorities. It's also worth noting that some 40 percent of these women were of Japanese origin.

Many Japanese politicians have also come to believe that the Nanking Massacre was a fabrication of the Chinese, who are using it to pressure Japan into granting concessions in other areas. More than 60 Diet members conducted several study sessions in February and March. Much evidence disproving the massacre was presented; for example, although the Chinese Nationalist Ministry of Information conducted more than 300 press conferences over 11 months after the fall of Nanking, it never breathed a word about any massacre. Nor did Chiang Kai-shek or Mao Zedong refer to it in statements on the first anniversary of the war.

Diet members are now forming a new caucus to study the facts. Whatever they find, further apologies are unlikely. The country's attitude has changed dramatically since the 1970s. In recent decades, for example, many Japanese history textbooks blamed Japanese forces for massacring 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese civilians in Nanking. Only one textbook mentions such events today. Saluting the rising-sun flag and singing the national anthem (the title of which translates as "Your Noble Reign") have become mandatory in public schools. These are small but telling signs of how Japan's sentiments have changed. The country is eager to resume its place in the world as a normal nation, with a normal defense and foreign policy. The harder its neighbors or the United States push it for apologies, the harder Japan may start pushing back.

Kase is a historian and author who served as an adviser to Prime Ministers Takeo Fukuda and Yasuhiro Nakasone.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc.






日本1945年投降后的第一年,很多日本民众发现这种强加的驯服很难接受。譬如 1952年,议会一致提倡战争罪犯应该与战争上光荣牺牲或者受伤官兵享受同样待遇。当时日本的一半国民在请愿书上签名要求马上释放监狱里的战争罪犯,同时主要的政治党派拒绝承认任何战争罪名。

1970年,这种抵抗随着记忆的消退和经济的繁荣开始减弱。直到1970年,由于经济起飞、日本民众享受前所未有的富裕生活,基于贸易考虑,政府倾向为过去的暴行向邻近各国道歉。1993年时任官房长官河野洋平针对慰安妇事件公开道歉。在 1996年日本投降50周年纪念日上,社会党首相村山富市也坦承日军暴行对亚洲各国造成“极度的伤害和痛苦”。

近几年,沉睡的日本民族主义因为几种因素开始复苏。第一,在近十年来日本经济的萧条证明“道歉”对经济并没有带来多少实际效益。第二,现年53岁的保守党首相安倍执政,其阁员和助手都在二战后出生,不认为他们该为过去的历史忏悔。日本的民族主义在中国的军事积累和朝鲜核武器的威胁下开始复活。在看到邻国为了现在的利益而不断挖掘过去那些丑陋的历史时,日本的民族主义开始成形。譬如在1965年,韩国与日本恢复正常邦交的时候,韩国竟然都没有提起过慰安妇的事情,还是在 1980年日本的左翼分子提出这个话题。





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