Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Remember what I said about Japan apologizing?

I said it back here.  This is what I mean.  Key statement in the story:
The prime minister, when asked during the press conference whether he would make a reciprocal trip to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, said he had no current plans for a visit.
I know it could come off as being petty, to say we will apologize if they apologize.  But there is a method here.  Again, there is a tendency in non-Western, non-American nations to not blame themselves.  Sure Japan has apologized to other countries over the years.  But usually the apology is somewhere along the lines of  'we humbly apologize for this war we were forced into and otherwise desperately wanted to end because we hear some of our soldiers got out of hand.'  That's not an apology.  Nor is it true.

In fact, it does a grave disservice to those who suffered under the cruel hand of Japan during its reign. As long as Japan uses two giant mushroom cloud shaped shields to mask its own atrocious track record, as long as it uses anything anyone else did to avoid accountability to its own people and the millions it killed and terrorized for 14 years under its self-proclaimed Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, then America groveling in the dirt and begging forgiveness could well cause more damage and allow for less accountability than anything it might help.


  1. The Japanese white wash their own history more than any other advanced nation. It is my understanding that the Japanese school system teaches that Japan's role in WWII was mostly defensive. It is even considered major diplomatic issue by the Chinese and to a lesser extent by our own. Given the amount of time that has past most Japanese may be unaware of what anyone would want them to apologize for.

    Japan is a weird country.

  2. They are different. Just watch their game shows. My wife's uncle is an executive with GM, and he says the Japanese still have a certain 'Japanese, and then all the other people of the world who aren't as good' attitude. Though in recent years, there appears to have been some humbling. Plus, like we've seen, there has been an up and coming reform movement working to hold it more accountable.

    But what they learn? In college, I went out with a girl from Japan. She grew up there, but moved to the US when she was a teen. She was stunned at how critical we are of our own history. And, like you point out, she was shocked to hear how we study the war. Basically they were told that racist, European powers more or less forced Japan's hand, then through a series of misunderstandings and allied belligerence, the war was sustained, primarily so that the US could demonstrate its new found nuclear power and solidify its position as the world's top nation.

    That would have been the 70s and 80s, but I don't know how much has officially changed. Not enough, according to many of the countries of Asia who see the Pacific war, not the European theater, as the main focus of the war (one they see as starting in 1931).


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