It is 67 years since the World War II ended with a loss of Japan. The nation has made a solemn promise that it would never repeat war atrocities and dark politics. That has had a great importance.
Is the pledge kept well today? How do Asian peoples see Japan? Let's think over the history, commemorating the anniversary of August 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered unconditionally.
REAL APOLOGY MUST BE MADE AND SHARED BY PEOPLE
Peace Constitution was born after remorse on Japan's aggression wars. But in fact immediately after the war Japanese people did not regret. People preferred just saying sorry all together to investigating war responsibility.
The Emperor Hirohito, the root cause of all evils, has turned to be 'a man' from a god to travel freely with his entourage across the nation. Japanese people had welcomed Hirohito, waving flags of Hinomaru. On the occasions of national holidays many families used to put up the flag at the entrance door. It was after mass movements for democracy, including struggles of school teachers, influenced the society broadly and deeply that we realized Hinomarus were absent in the street.
It was almost ten years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Japanese people began to commit in mass movements against atomic and hydrogen bombs when they witnessed disasters of a tuna fishing boat, the Daigo Fukuryumaru, in 1954.
Apology of War Began to Take Root
People hated the war soon after the WWII, but the feeling did not link with the idea of Article Nine. In the Diet session when Constitution was approved, the then-Japanese Communist Party opposed the idea of 'unarmed' on the ground that it meant to deny the right of self-defense. This fact reflected social atmosphere of those days. It was after the Korean War that Japanese people began to pursue seriously the principle of unarmed neutrality of the sovereign state.
Mass movements staged by our seniors taught people how to see relations of Hinomaru, atomic bombs and the war. Through struggles against the state power people thus learned a necessity of making an apology for the war.
A crucial aspect was, however, left intact - US bases in Okinawa. In the shadow of 'peace' in the four islands all the burdens were imposed on residents of Okinawa. Later peace activists realized importance of Okinawa and regretted. Sufferings in Okinawa have not been relieved even today. The same is true in terms of Asian peoples. Japan has not officially made apology and compensation. People in China and Koreas have condemned the war waged by Japan, but peace movements here have not yet fully responded.
Will Japan Go to Nuclear-Armed?
Now let's analyze today's situation. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has compiled a draft for a new constitution, in which the party defines Emperor as Head of State. According to the party, school teachers are easily penalized, if they protest Hinomaru and Kimigayo, the anthem to respect Emperor.
Recently a new provision was incorporated into the Atomic Energy Basic Law: to 'contribute to national security'. People in Asia have perceived that Japan may arm with nuclear weapons.
The Noda government as well as the LDP advocates a concept of the right of collective self-defense though it may undermine the cause of Article Nine. The state power targets again China in the military context and petit-Hitlers agitate chauvinism these days. The state power strikes a corner where mass movements are the most vulnerable.
The international community has forbidden by laws swastika and books written by Hitler. It keeps investigating war criminals in the grass-root efforts. From this viewpoint recognition of Japanese people on the history is regarded superficial as if it were a cheap imitation.
Change in Political Scene
However, we see hopes. One is strong voices of 'don't repeat Fukushima', which spread swiftly across the nation in the unprecedented way. As time passes, people realize more seriously disastrous effects of radioactivity. An accident of nuclear power plant is horrible as nobody can tell what will happen next. The mass movements will not calm down easily. The other is anger of residents of Okinawa. Appeasement as well as money does not work.
People make politics - we have forgotten that for long time. Mass movements against nuclear power plants and against US bases in Okinawa - either one of them- will create a new phase in the history of democracy which has turned and twisted after the WWII. We are at a crucial stage of the post-war history. Politics today is managed by irresponsible politicians who forget the war atrocities. Let's create our politics. Let's share sincere remorse on the war with more people.
August 14, 2012