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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 14 - 20  > Remember lessons of history on 74th anniversary of war’s end
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2019 August 14 - 20 TOP3 [PEACE]

Remember lessons of history on 74th anniversary of war’s end

August 15, 2019
Akahata editorial

Seventy-four years have passed since August 15, 1945 when Japan surrendered in the Asia-Pacific War that caused the deaths of many people as well as widespread destruction in Japan and other Asian countries.

In the House of Councilors election held last month, political parties that support Prime Minister Abe’s move to revise the Constitution failed to regain a two-thirds majority in the House. It is clear that the voters sent a negative message to Abe and his policies. However, PM Abe insists that the voters were in favor of discussing constitutional revision and is accelerating his attempt to add a clause to legitimize the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 of the Constitution. If a government with such an authoritarian nature is left unchecked and continues to disregard and deceive the general public, it will lead to the demise of democracy, the rise of fascism, and more war. This is a lesson that should be learned from historical experience. It is essential to work to put an end to the reckless Abe government.

What the dictatorship of PM Tojo Hideki brought about during WWII

In December 1941, the then Prime Minister Tojo Hideki-led government launched a war against the U.S. and Britain with surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor on the U.S. colony of Hawaii and on Kota Baharu on the Malay Peninsula which was at that time under British occupation. PM Tojo enjoyed dictatorial powers under the absolute Emperor system. The prime minister concurrently held the positions of army minister, internal affairs minister, and chief of general staff. Tojo severely cracked down on journalists and activists critical of the government and opposing the war with the use of the adversely-revised Peace Preservation Law and National Defense Security Law. Tojo confronted his political rivals by abusing his power as the army minister to command the military police. This is a prime example of how closely a war regime works hand in hand with an oppressive regime.

The 15-year war of aggression started with the September 1931 Manchurian Incident in which the Japanese military exploded bombs on a Japan-owned railway in northeastern China, then falsely blamed China for the bombing and invaded the region, then called Manchuria. After that, claiming the need to protect its "self-existence and self-defense", Japan plunged into a full-scale war against China in 1937 and declared war on the U.S. and the U.K. in 1941. The phrase "new order of greater East Asia" was repeatedly promoted in order to disguise the true purpose of the invasion and territorial expansion. The so-called "announcements from the Imperial headquarters" in which Japan's war achievements were excessively trumpeted underlines how the war was promoted with outright lies.

During the Asia Pacific War, more than 3.1 million people in Japan and 20 million people in the rest of Asia were killed. Japanese cities were burned to the ground by the two atomic bombs and unrelenting fire bombings. Japan's invasion and colonial rule caused tremendous suffering throughout Asia, and the deep wounds associated with atrocities remain to this today. Issues such as wartime Japanese military "comfort women" being "carted off by force", and "drafted workers" from the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere have brought into stark relief Japan's war responsibility.

The issue of Korean laborers who had been forced to work in Japan as "drafted workers" has been the focus of the most recent Japan-Korea dispute. The governments of Japan and South Korea should discuss how to address the issue so that Korean victims can have their honor and dignity restored. However, the Abe government is intentionally linking this issue with the bilateral trade problem and is taking unilateral action. Only by honestly facing up to its shameful past can Japan win the trust and friendship of the international community.

Block Article 9 revision

Prime Minister Abe professes his firm intent to have a revised constitution put into force by 2020. Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the war's end. His ambition must be thwarted. Japan is standing at a historic crossroads of either facing up to its past or reliving it.

Based on the bitterest remorse over the past war of aggression, the Japanese Constitution was established. In its preamble, it states that we, the Japanese people, "resolve that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government". It is high time for all the Japanese to take this pledge to heart. Let us work together to thwart Abe's attempt to turn Japan yet again into a "war-fighting nation".
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