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China Voice: 8 questions to Mr. Abe

On the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI, in Europe old rivals have apologized and forgiven one another.

Asia however, is home to a defeated county with an unfathomable attitude toward history, currently trying to wriggle out of the constraints of its pacifist constitution.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has put China and other countries on their guard with worries about the possibility, however small, of a third world war.

We can never undo the catastrophe of 100 years ago, but we can be wise and responsible for ourselves and coming generations. For the sake of peace, Mr. Abe, you deserve the chance to clarify the following questions.

You said the definition of aggression has yet to be established by academia or the international community.

After WWI, Japan captured China's Qingdao; in 1931. Your country invaded northeast China and launched the war of aggression against China in 1937. Millions of Japanese troops were sent to China before Japan was defeated in 1945.

Question one: From which perspective do you define these wars as not being aggression?

Japan accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and surrendered unconditionally in 1945. The proclamation states that the authority and influence of those who deceived the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest must be eliminated for all time.

Question two: Is the Potsdam Proclamation, achieved only after millions of people lost their lives, still working for Japan today'?

The 1972 Japan-China joint communique reads, "The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself."

As we see the Japanese government whitewashing the atrocities of their predecessors and portraying the war as a military conflict, in which Japan was forced to engage, to liberate Asia from white colonialism, a third question arises:

Can such actions be rightly called self reproach?

In 1978, convicted war criminals were enshrined at Yasukuni and no Japanese emperor has visited the shrine since. You, however, insisted on visiting the shrine and even reported your work to the war dead. You claim your visit was a prayer for peace and swear that no more war will be waged.

Question four: Would it not be better to swear before the neighbors who suffered at Japan's hand than to swear before the souls of the murderers who cause that very suffering?

The Japanese public is deeply worried about an economy driven by "Abenomics". Alongside a shaky economy, you are promoting nationalism and challenging the order of global peace.

A fifth question calls for clarification of whether and how the situation in Japan today is similar to - or how is it different from - that before WWII?

You talk about your political dream to unlock Japan from "a box created 40 or 50 years ago."

Does that mean bringing Japan back to wartime militarism?

You have been emphasizing the U.S.-Japan alliance, but the fact is, this alliance is nothing more than two sides using one another to achieve their own ends.

Question seven: How long do you think this alliance of strange bedfellows can last?

Question eight: Japan greatly benefited from WWI and started WWII. While the whole world is making efforts to avoid a third world war, what is Japan doing?

Europe's summer of 100 years ago shall not be repeated in today's Asia. China does not weigh history as a burden, but cannot forget the great suffering of the Chinese people by Japan's hand since WWI.

Acknowledging honestly the nature of the war and truly atoning for it are prerequisites for Japan in receiving the forgiveness of its neighbors.

Mr. Abe, you say you want to meet Chinese leaders and ease bilateral relations, but up till now, we have neither heard sincere words nor perceived any mollifying action. Before any meeting at the highest level can take place, Mr. Prime Minister, you have a lot of questions to answer.

[Source: By Xinhua writer Li Zhihui, Xinhua, Beijing, 28Jul14]

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