Sixty three years ago this month, atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in the final act to end World War II. However, despite the nation’s dislike of any aspect of nuclear weapons, the Japanese government will not express any opposition to the recent United States nuclear agreement with India which transfers nuclear technology expertise even though India has refused to be a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. A government source said, “japan will not stand in the way of revising the guidelines at the upcoming NSG extraordinary plenary meeting.” Up to this point in history, Japan has opposed any revisions of guidelines that provide assistance to nations who refuse to sign the treaty.
Some experts believe economic factors played a role in the switch of Japanese policy. Japan is interested in making inroads into the Indian market and does not wish to come across as a foe of the Indian government. There are reports tiny Switzerland will oppose revisions which require unanimous agreement. One can only wonder how survivors of the atomic blasts feel about their nation’s actions.
The history of Japan’s confrontation with its brutality during World War II has hardly been a shining moment of honesty in that nation’s reaction to its actions. Japanese school books rarely deal with issues such as the rape of women or brutality toward prisoners of war. Unlike Germany, which has created museums and ongoing education programs concerning the Holocaust, Japan prefers slumbering in the sleep of denial. Fortunately, in 2005, the Women’s Active Museum on War was created in order to present to Japanese people the true story of what happened. It currently is holding an exhibit in Tokyo that deals with exploitation of Chinese women by members of the Imperial Japanese army.
According to the exhibits director, Eriko Ikeda, “in China, many women were abducted and raped by Japanese soldiers as a warning against anti-japanese movements there.” The Imperial Army established ‘comfort stations’ “which we should rather call rape stations.. after Japanese forces advanced into each region.” The exhibit offers visual materials as well as individual stories of what happened to women both during the time they were being raped and the aftermath of the experience. It also presents stories written by Japanese soldiers who admit they raped women. One panel depicts the story of a Chinese woman who was raped, escaped and then gave birth to a child. Her husband was furious at her and the boy experienced problems in school and from an abusive father who never acknowledged him as a son.
Comfort Women are still fighting to obtain compensation for their wartime brutality and it is a difficult and onerous task to obtain financial compensation.
The United States government has informed Japan it intends to strike the name of North Korea from its list of nations that support terrorism provided North Koreans file a statement describing its nuclear facilities and activities. The government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is pleased and not pleased with the American decision. Japan has been insisting that North Korea must provide information concerning Japanese citizens who were abducted and brought to North Korea, but there has not been adequate response to Japanese requests for information.
Prime Minister Fukuda is in a difficult position, as he noted to the press, “if the nuclear problem will be resolved, isn’t that something desirable also for our country? It’s something we should welcome.” But, accepting the North Koreans without obtaining information about the kidnapped Japanese citizens is a political hot potato.
The decision by America to go it alone on this issue simply makes it more likely Japan will find its own foreign policy for Asia and cease always trailing behind that of America.
In 2001, upon assuming office, President Bush made it clear he would not follow the ideas of Bill Clinton who negotiated with North Korea. Early this year, Bush told the Israel parliament, it was appeasement to negotiate with terrorist nations. How times have changed.