BY TIAN LIN
On 26th December 2013, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe brazenly paid a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine which honours 14 Class-A war criminals of World War II, provoking joint condemnations and strong opposition from the international community.
During WWII, Japan launched aggressive wars to many Asian countries, China included, with its notorious crimes too numerous to record. During its invasion in China, Japan committed many horrible crimes such as Nanjing Massacre, Unit 731’s chemical and biological experiments on living human body, forceful recruitment of labourers and sex slaves and so on. In the course of the war against Japanese aggression, China suffered 35 million casualties, countless dislocated and broken families, and $600 billion in economic losses.
If one can clearly recall the humiliating history of African countries being colonized and the Rwandan Genocide’s unprecedented levels of brutality 20 years ago, it will not be difficult to understand the great calamities and irreparable sorrows that Japan’s invasion in China had brought to the Chinese people.
Nevertheless, the virtuous, tolerant and peace-loving Chinese people have always believed that China and Japan are close neighbours, that the Japanese people are also victims of the war, and that the responsibilities of the war crimes shall only be borne by the small number of militarists. China is willing to make joint efforts with Japan to draw lessons from history, improve and strengthen the bilateral relations.
However, ever since Abe held power for the second time, he has been trying consistently to turn back the wheels of history. He repeatedly expressed “extremely deep regret for his failure to visit the Yasukuni Shrine during his first administration”, and even claimed that “the definition of what constitutes an ‘invasion’ has yet to be established”, and finally paid a wilful and high-profile visit to the Yasukuni Shrine which advocates the militaristic view of history and insists that “invasion is justified”. Such acts, openly covering up and distorting history as well as whitewashing and glorifying militarism, shall not only cause greater disappointment and bitter anger from the people of the victimized countries, but also be despised and condemned by every peace-loving human being.
What was Abe’s intention to honor war criminal ghosts? Quoting his own words, it was a “commitment to peace”. However, this commitment has obviously gone wrong by loudly speaking the words such as “peace” and “no-war” in front of a bunch of primary criminals who launched the fascist aggressive war. The essential purpose of Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine was to deny the victory of WWII and the international order after WWII.
This has challenged the conscience and justice of the whole of mankind. What we have to be more alert to is that the Abe administration not only denies the history of aggressive war, but is also actively pursuing the rights for overseas military actions while expanding defence expenditures by a wide margin.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party simply dropped the “no-war pledge” in its working policy for 2014. We just cannot help asking: what on earth is Abe attempting to do? Won’t he obey the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter? Isn’t he going to respect and guard the peace and stability in East Asia as well as the world at large? How can a nation, which is too cowardly to face up to history, become a responsible political power and do its part in promoting global peace and security?
In 1970, the former Federal German Chancellor Willy Brandt humbly knelt down at the monument of the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. Such a surprising and amazing gesture enabled Germany to cast off its historical burdens and manage to embark on a path of rejuvenation and development.
In sharp contrast, Abe’s wilful visit to the Yasukuni Shrine shall only expose his false nature and make the world feel deeply worried about the ugly and dangerous resurgence of the Japanese militarism. As the Kiswahili saying goes, “Mchimba Kisima huingia mwenyewe”. If Abe persists in continuing his tortuous and vicious course towards militarism, he will finally get lost and pay for his own wrong doings.
The African people and Chinese people both experienced the sorrows brought by invasion and colonization. During the colonial authority’s armed repression on Kenya’s national independent movements, at least 12, 000 were killed and nearly 80, 000 were prosecuted to varying degrees. Similar historical encounters and misfortunes have bound the Chinese people and the African people, Kenyans included, closely together.
Both China and Africa need a peaceful and stable world, and an excellent environment for economic and social development. Towards any act that goes against the historical trend to sabotage regional and world peace and security, we must jointly send out a clear and definite message by saying “NO” and “NEVER”. We must by no means allow invaders and colonizers to deny and whitewash their crimes. We must never permit historical tragedies to recur.
(Tian is the Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya)