Reflections on Atrocities in Asia During WWII

Seventy years have passed since the Nanking Massacre.  The Nanking Massacre is undeniable, because it was witnessed and well documented at that time by many people, including western journalists, businessmen, diplomats, missionaries, and other international observers.  However, the Japanese government has never officially (i.e., with a resolution passed by their Parliament) admitted to the Nanking Massacre, or other atrocities committed by the Japanese military during WWII, even though descriptions of these atrocities have also been found in the diaries and recorded interviews of former Japanese soldiers.  As a matter of fact, many Japanese leaders and the Japanese mass media have said on many occasions that there were no such atrocities, and that those atrocities were fabricated by the Chinese.  An example of such statement was the one made in March 2007 by the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who denied that during WWII the Japanese military had forced foreign women into sexual slavery, euphemistically called Comfort Women.

Unlike the German government who has admitted its holocaust atrocities during WWII and paid compensations to the victims or their families, the Japanese government has not done likewise.  How much longer does the world have to wait before justice is done?  It seems that unless both significant political pressure and economic pressure are applied to the Japanese government, justice will not be achieved, and there will be no assurance that such atrocities will not be repeated again in the future, in Asia or other parts of the world. 

It is heartening to see that recently the governments of several countries have passed resolutions condemning the actions of the Japanese military associated with Comfort Women and called on the Japanese government to officially acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility for these actions.

  • U.S.:  The House of Representatives on 7/30/07 passed House Resolution 121, which read in part “that the government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as `comfort women’, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II  . . .  should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the `comfort women’.”

  • Canada:  The Canadian Parliament on 11/29/07 passed a motion that called on Japan to “take full responsibility for the involvement of the Japanese Imperial Forces in the system of forced prostitution, including through a formal and sincere apology to all of those who were victims” and “to clearly and publicly refute any claims that the sexual enslavement and trafficking of the ‘comfort women’ never occurred.”

  • Netherlands:  The Lower House of the Dutch Parliament unanimously passed a motion on 11/20/07 that called on Japan to fully recognize the fate of the “comfort women,” take full responsibility for the war crimes of the Japanese military, and offer formal apologies.  The motion also called on Japan to revise its history text books and give a more accurate picture of WWII.

  • Europe:  The European Parliament passed a resolution on 12/13/07 urging Japan to formally apologize to women forced to work as sex slaves by the Japanese military in Asia before and during WWII.  The resolution calls the issue “one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.”  It also urges Japan to “refute publicly any claims that the subjugation and enslavement of ‘comfort women’ never occurred.”

Apparently political pressure is being applied to Japan.  But I think economic pressure is also needed.  What can we do as individuals?  I suggest that until the Japanese government acknowledges and apologizes on the atrocities the Japanese military committed during WWII, we as consumers should boycott buying Japanese cars.  Personally speaking, I have previously purchased two Toyota Camrys, and currently I am driving a 1997 Toyota Camry.  I have decided that I will not buy another Japanese car again until the above happens.  I ask that all justice-loving people of the world to join in this boycott.

It is important to emphasize that we have nothing against the Japanese people.  We just want to make sure that this part of history is not forgotten and that such atrocities will not be repeated again in the world.  We hope that with enough political pressure and economic pressure, our objective will be achieved.  It is important to keep in mind the following two quotes:

  • “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  – Great American/Spanish philosopher George Santayana
  • “All that is needed for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – 18th century Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke

For a related article on the Nanking Massacre, see the article “Watershed Event in Teaching WWII Asian History in NJ Schools” in the “Political/Social Commentary” page of this release. 

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