His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, 12 July 2016
Subject: The Wages of Guilt
The dissatisfaction with political responses to problems seems to be spreading. Ian Buruma in his book “The Wages of Guilt” compares the political response of the Germans and Japanese to their war past. The difference in approach in acknowledging and in paying respect to the victims is striking. Germany accepted and continues to accept full responsibility. Japan ignores the war crimes, glorifies its military and refuses to accept that, in the occupation of foreign territories, the behavior of the Japanese Imperial Army was the Far East equivalent to the German Holocaust. The documents of proof are kept by independent institutions and indicate that millions of young people were sent deliberately into the Pacific war. Many of them lost their lives or were mutilated, often not able to live a normal life. Politicians and civil servants ignored their plight. An honest confrontation of Japan’s military past did not take place. Mr. Buruma published his book in 1991. Now in 2016, 25 years later, Japan is still ignoring its past and is confronted with: ”The Wages of Guilt.”
Why do I refer to Mr. Buruma’s book at this time? Its message is highlighted in the clear signals sent by the unexpected outcome of the United Kingdom referendum to leave the EU. The elderly and the unemployed Britons voted to leave the EU, because the politicians kept promising them support, but failed to deliver any kind of dignified support. Their fear was that they would continuously be ignored by politicians. This compares to the Japanese military victims of war in the occupied territories, who are ignored as a matter of policy by Japan. The British voters had the opportunity to demonstrate that the elderly and unemployed matter in politics. The UK government is now confronted with the consequences. Similarly the Japanese government is ignoring the elderly, often victims of war, and the young people who want to survive in the changing world.
You may be wondering why the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts continuous to require Japan to acknowledge its military past and pay respect to its victims. The answer is simple:
be honest and act with dignity and genuine honor towards all war victims.
We are still looking forward to your acknowledgement of receipt of our petitions.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.
J.F. van Wagtendonk