Feature

South Korea: Why Japan hasn’t faced its war past

Of the three Axis leaders, only Japanese Emperor Hirohito “managed to escape blame and punishment.”

Kim Jin
JoongAng Daily

Japan is trying to walk back its apology for wartime atrocities, said Kim Jin. Imperial Japan invaded much of Asia in the 1930s and 1940s, massacring millions of Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, and others. It “conducted horrific biological and chemical experiments” on living people and forced thousands of women to be sex slaves. “If not for Japan’s militaristic and chauvinistic ambition,” the Korean Peninsula would still be one country. In 1995, a Japanese prime minister apologized for the war aggression, yet the Japanese people have never truly accepted their nation’s guilt. Japanese textbooks gloss over the subject, and lawmakers pay annual tribute to dead war criminals. This is because Japan was never forced to own up to its crimes at the highest level: that of its deity-like emperor. Of the three Axis leaders, only Japanese Emperor Hirohito “managed to escape blame and punishment.” Gen. Douglas MacArthur thought Japan would be easier to pacify with Hirohito still nominally in charge, so he shielded him. But it’s because Hirohito was never forced to apologize for Japan’s monstrous crimes that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today has the temerity to seek to tone down the 1995 apology. He “would not have dared to reverse the words of the emperor.”

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