Japan is a modern democratic society whose population opposes aggressive wars anywhere in the world and seeks to promote peaceful resolution of disputes. However, the Japan of World War II was quite different. It invaded nations, it killed and raped thousands of people in China and during the war most probably slaughtered at least three to four million. Americans recall with anger, the barbarous behavior of the Japanese army toward American and Filipino prisoners who surrendered at Bataan. Thousands were killed on the march to prisons. The Japanese military somehow thought they were scoring some type of propaganda points by showing films of American POWs being beheaded.
Germany is an excellent model for Japan. It has confronted its past and instituted wonderful educational programs that enable German youth to come to grips with their historical past. The latest example of Japanese efforts to rewrite the history of World War II came with the announcement by the education ministry that a new history book written by nationalist “scholars” who refuse to acknowledge Japan’s barbarity will be distributed in schools. Before being cleared the most recent version of this distortion of history contained 516 errors that had to be corrected.
It would benefit the Japanese ministry of education to visit Germany and talk with educators on how to deal with World War II.