Is Japan really not apologizing?
Original question can be found at: https://www.quora.com/Why-is-Japan-not-apologizing-for-world-war-crimes please check it for other answers like this.
This is a very difficult question (controversial topic = producing a very long post) to tackle and I hope the Quora-Japan community can assist me in my attempt at answering it for you. But here are my 2 yen on this topic and I hope this helps you understand things from a different perspective.
When it comes to the war crimes Japan committed, in their honest of hearts, Japan believes that enough apologizing has been accomplished already. Is this because they believe they have done enough verbal/public apologetic demonstrations? Not really. But it comes from how the concept of a “true apology” is identified in Japan.
A true apology
In Japan, as it is most likely true in other countries, actions speak louder than words. That means, that the true Japanese apologetic spirit is better manifested (in their own hearts and minds) when Japan goes out of their way to “make up for” the damage and losses caused to the nations it mercilessly devastated during that bloody conflict called WW 2.
With that JP definition of what “apologizing” means in mind, when can get into the core of this issue: has Japan, at least in its own way, apologized for the war crimes it committed? The short answer a Japanese person would have for that is YES. “How?” you ask logically. Let me go over some of the factors that make the average Japanese person, and Japan as a nation, believe that enough “apologizing” has been done.
1. Generous donations to help Korean growth in the 60s.
i. After the birth of Japan’s “economic miracle,” the island was well on its way to achieve global economic dominance. Following suit, the “Asian-Tigers-to-be” nations in Far East Asia were looking for ways to achieve a similar level of economic growth. This led the, then president of South Korea, Chung Hee Park, to seek foreign financial aid to support Korea’s growth efforts. Japan decided to become one of Korea’s financial supporters and provided about $800 million (an exorbitant sum of money at the time) in aid (Hayes, 2008). Chung Hee Park was hated by Koreans for accepting the aid, but in Japan, this was greeted as an opportunity to finally “redeem” the Japanese government for the atrocities it had brought upon the Korean peninsula. Many in Japan believed that this was finally a chance for the relationship of both countries to step into a new modern era, where the conflicts of the past could finally be forgotten.
When talking to my father-in-law about such time, he usually says things like: “you know, Japan was just starting to rip the benefits of all the hard work people were vicariously conducting in order to rebuild the country after the war. And we went out of our way to help the Korean people to follow us in the economic recovery efforts—how can they say we never apologized for what we did in the war?” he expresses. Whenever I talk about this topic with older Japanese people, I get similar answers…which has led me to conclude that they genuinely believe, through their actions, an apologetic statement far greater than a politician speaking in front of some camera begging for forgiveness: an apologetic statement that was built upon the blood, sweat, and tears of the entire Japanese population, has already been presented! The recent “women of comfort” issue between both nations just make those scars bleed again—which leads many of the older folks here in Japan to double down on their actions: “maybe we should not have ‘apologized’ and helped them grow the way we did,” some say.
2. Support of outsourcing efforts to China
i. When China started to open its economy and decided to take lead to become the world’s outsourcing center, Japan acted very positively towards the idea of outsourcing a lot of its industry to China. The government did not charge high tariffs on companies that wanted to make the move, and internal conditions (such as high corporate taxation as well as dwindling human resources) facilitated a huge move of Japanese corporate investment into the Chinese economy (this time, in the billions of dollars mark). You may perceive this as Japan simply trying to fulfill its market’s needs. But the fact that the very “Japan for the Japanese” government policies simply allowed this to happen, without putting any chains around it, points otherwise. And the perception of the Japanese people on the issue is similar to the case in Korea I presented above: for them, having private citizens go out of their way to provide another country with plenty of resources for its progress and economic growth is worth more than 1000 words in a politically well-written apology.
3. “Recent” apology to the Philippines:
i. Japan requested that its Ambassador to the Philippines officially apologizes (which he has done) for the atrocities it brought to the island during the war. This seems to be one of the only politically “official” apologies Japan has issued to one of the nations it has invaded during the war. Although it was nothing pompous, it was positively received by local media.
4. Other areas affected by the war:
i. Japan kind of sees itself as the liberator of other areas it attacked/invaded during WW 2. Places like Thailand, that were still under French colonialism during the war, were “taken back to Asia” during the conflict. Due to the fact that Thai people seem to take no issues with the Japanese and their actions during WW 2, we could make an educated guess that the “liberator” aspect of Japan during the war is also perceived by the Thai people.
5. Miscellaneous political apologies:
i. Finally, Japan has “indeed” issue general apology statements throughout history. I think the issue taken by people who cannot perceive these as proper apologies is because they are not “specifically” pointing to any particular Japanese war crime. The Washington Post has an article noting the same and it can be found by clicking the following link:
My personal remarks on the issue
This is just my opinion, please take it with chunks of salt if necessary, but I believe most Japanese people see war in of itself as something horrendous. They agree that all types of war are a demonstration of the monster in humanity—evil to its core. Therefore, for such reason, if they are to apologize for what they did during WW 2, the other countries that committed acts of violence in war should also be apologizing. This means, for instance:
1. Russia should be apologizing for what the Red Army did against German women when it took over East Germany.
2. Germany should be constantly apologizing for what it did to the world in WW 2 (which I think they actually do).
3. Russia and the US should be apologizing for what they did in the Korean peninsula and in Vietnam.
4. America and Great Britain should be apologizing for the mess they unraveled in the Middle East.
5. Mongols should be apologizing for what they did to China during the Qing Dynasty.
6. Han Chinese should apologize for what they did against Tibet.
7. The Muslim States should be apologizing for what they did to North Africa, South/South East Asia and a large part of Eastern Europe during the Muslim expansion.
8. Christian nations should be apologizing for the Crusades.
9. European nations should be apologizing for what they did to many nations around the world in terms of conquest and war.
10. Native tribes in South America should be apologizing for what they did to each other (cannibalism, rape, domination, slavery, and death were rampant amongst most Brazilian native tribes before Portuguese rule).
11. Egypt should be apologizing for enslaving the Jewish people circa millennia ago.
12. And the list of monstrosities caused by nations, tribes, cultures, and civilizations go on, which would require infinite amounts of “apology.”
With all of these and THOUSANDS of other war crime cases blemishing our race’s track record, thinks the Japanese commoner’s mind, why should we be the only ones apologizing?
So here lies my counter question: what kind of apology is going to be “apologetic enough” for the world to finally see Japan as a repentant nation?
Just some thoughts
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Hayes, Jeffrey ECONOMIC HISTORY AFTER WORLD WAR II IN JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA published @
The American Interest JAPAN APOLOGIZES TO THE PHILIPPINES FOR WWII ATROCITIES @
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