Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Generations of Japanese are misled regarding their recent history, particularly on the Pacific War. Under the false banner “Asia for the Asians” Japan started a colonial war to drive out the Europeans! The Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, was one of the objectives under the pretext that the Dutch refused to supply Japan with commodities. In fact it was to support Japan’s vastly expanding offensive war machine. The Japanese military and their agents occupied Dutch East Indies and singled the Dutch out for ultimate destruction. It is as sinister as that. That is the recent history of Japan. It ruined Japan financially as military nationalism reigned. Japan earned a reputation of tyranny, cruelty and disrespect for mankind. The global opinion regarding Japan is one of fear, as Japan still refuses to accept the consequences of the war crimes by its military during the Pacific War.
It appears that you are obsessed by the facts and the bad image the Pacific War gives Japan. You want to review the past statements by Japanese Prime Ministers and to release a new statement. A future orientated statement that will suit the 21st century. On timing and content you will be giving serious thought. The previous statements by Japan’s Prime Ministers were not accepted by the victims nor apparently by you. The verbal apologetic expressions were meaningless. They did not accept the moral responsibility for the wrong doings of the Japanese military and their agents. They did not mention the war crimes. Politicians continue to honor the war criminals. The Japanese Parliament was not consulted and contrary to Germany, Japan failed to recognize the necessity to institute a reparation program for the individual victims of the Japanese military tyranny and misconduct. In reviewing a statement for the future you seriously have to accept the whole history and accept the consequences for Japan of her moral responsibility.
Very few people in the world however believe that you as Prime Minister will see the need to address the lack of knowledge by the Japanese people. The youth will continue to be misled on the actual facts and figures of Japan’s recent history. It is assumed that you will continue to whitewash the facts. However we may be wrong and in quoting our famous soccer player Johan Cruijff “each disadvantage has an advantage”. In getting to grips with the true historic facts you may find that an apology only has value if it’s followed by a suitable redress of the damages done to the individual war victims. Japan, despite its economic problems, can afford it. Let’s face it, Japan was allowed to resurrect as a nation, based on the terms of the San Francisco peace treaty, to become a very wealthy nation. This was at the expense of in particular the Dutch war victims who lost but all, but were denied under that treaty to claim their basic rights from Japan. In reviewing the past for the future, acknowledgement of the moral obligations would prepare Japan for that future. That would be advantageous for Japan in the Johan Cruijff meaning! Get on with it and solve the problem. It is now nearly 70 years old, and will continue to hamper Japan in its global relations.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,
J.F. van Wagtendonk