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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: March 30, 2015 NO. 14, APRIL 2, 2015
Distorting History Is Unacceptable
By Yan Yuewen

The entire world remembers the history of the World War II (WWII) and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

Some important questions about the war must be clearly answered. Who began the war? What dark motivations led them to start it? How did the allied nations unite in the strength of justice and how much did they sacrifice to fight for freedom of humanity? The history of WWII, including its achievements and lessons, should be remembered by all nations. Legally binding international documents signed during and after the war, postwar trials of war criminals as well as historical research conducted over the past 70 years compose an undisputable foundation of the world's shared memory.

At present, some Japanese politicians have brazenly attempted to distort history, intending to relieve Japan of responsibility. The world should be alert to these provocative remarks and acts.

History cannot be reversed. However, we must maintain vigilant against any actions that would seek to distort historical verdicts and deny the fruits of victory.

According to a recent survey conducted by Japan's leading newspaper The Yomiuri Shimbun, only 5 percent of surveyed Japanese citizens said that they are "fully aware of" the Japan-provoked aggression and the Pacific War. Around 44 percent of the respondents said that they "know a little" about the war. And another 49 percent of the respondents answered that they are uninformed about the history. The survey also showed that education and school textbooks are the main ways that students to learn about the truth of past warfare.

History should not be recklessly tampered with. Such acts are anathema to international law and justice. The postwar arrangement clearly confirmed Japan's responsibility for aggression in WWII, and Japan admitted it unconditionally.

The Cairo Declaration, jointly released by the United States, China and Britain on December 1, 1943, stated, "The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan."

The Potsdam Declaration (or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender), jointly released on July 26, 1945 by the United States, China and Britain with the Soviet Union joining later, stated that Japan shall enforce the Cairo Declaration, and also declared the elimination "for all time of the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest." The declaration went on, saying, "We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners."

Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration in the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War issued by Japanese Emperor Hirohito on August 15, 1945 and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender signed by Japanese delegates aboard the United States Navy battleship USS Missouri on September 2 of the same year.

Admitting its historical aggression and reflecting on responsibility for the war is a precondition for Japan to reconcile with its Asian neighbors that suffered under its military campaigns in WWII.

The China-Japan Joint Statement issued on September 29, 1972 stated, "The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself."

The China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed on August 12, 1978 confirmed that the 1972 Joint Statement "constitutes the basis of the relations of peace and friendship between the two countries and that the principles enunciated in the Joint Statement should be strictly observed."

The China-Japan Joint Declaration released on November 26, 1998, stated, "Both sides believe that squarely facing the past and correctly understanding history are the important foundation for further developing relations between China and Japan. The Japanese side observes the 1972 Joint Statement between the government of the People's Republic of China and the government of Japan and the August 15, 1995 Statement by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious distress and damage that Japan caused to the Chinese people through its aggression against China during a certain period in the past and expressed deep remorse for this."

In a joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually beneficial relations in a comprehensive way, signed on May 7, 2008, China and Japan announced that the two sides resolved to face history squarely, advance toward the future, and endeavor with persistence to create a new era of a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" between Japan and China.

From the perspective of either international system or bilateral relations, admitting aggression in the past and reflecting on the responsibility for the war is what Japan must do. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory of the world's anti-Fascist war and the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, if Japanese leader denies the history of aggression in his commemoration statement, it will jeopardize current international order and severely harm China-Japan relations. As well, it will have a bad influence on Japan's development and its status in the international community.

Any retrograde step should not be taken on understanding history. If Japan acts willfully and unscrupulously on the historical issue for shortsighted intention, it will swallow the bitter pill at last.

The author is a commentator with the People's Daily

Copyedited by Joseph Halvorson

Comments to liuyunyun@bjreview.com

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