At the expense of the individual victims of Japan’s occupation of territories in South East Asia during World Two Japan’s wealth grew since the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951. In particular, the Dutch from former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, were denied by this treaty to claim from Japan their individual loss of health and property. The parties to the treaty were generous to the Japanese people despite the cruel violations of human rights by the Imperial Military. The so called Yoshida-Stikker agreement turned out to be a farce leaving the Dutch surviving the Japanese concentration camps with a pittance. The traumas, ill health, loss of property and career they had to endure were forgotten. Those who survived and who are still alive suffer daily from the brutal and sinister treatment in the name of the Emperor at the hands of the Japanse military.
In 1947 the United States of America drafted a new constitution for Japan bearing in mind how Japan terrorized its neighbors in war, violating human rights and looting the properties of individuals. In that constitution article 9 made it clear that Japan:
“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”
Now more than 60 years later you as Prime Minister want to change this noble article forgetting the reasons why the Americans put it in it in the first place. Unfortunately, one must admit that the ideal world has not materialized. War is still going on as the means settling disputes. In revising the present constitution Japan must settle its historic failures too. The moral obligation towards the victims of Japan’s military aggression is not only a must in preventing future wars, but is also in keeping with the Japanese aspired peace tradition.
It appears that you and your party continue to glorify Japan’s military past. Changing the constitution and remembering the effective date of the San Francisco Peace treaty as restoration day, does not revive Japan’s economy. It does not restore a sense of hope and determination for the future. In practice it is contrary. As long as Japan does not acknowledge its World War Two moral responsibility to the victims and their next of kin, Japan’s relations in the world will be strained and suspect. You cannot pass this responsibility on to your and Japan’s children. You must act now, acknowledge the wrong doings of the Imperial Army and settle Japan´s moral obligations.
Germany did not need a peace treaty to recognize that there was hope and determination for the future. The post war leaders of Germany recognized immediately after the war that the German nation would never be trusted again as long as they did not acknowledge the wrongdoings during World War Two. They paid respect, acknowledged and compensated for their wrongdoings.
Japan used the San Francisco Peace Treaty only to its own benefit and denied its moral obligations. Its politicians continue to hurt the victims by visiting the Yasukuni shrine.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,
J.F. van Wagtendonk