What Lies Behind Abe's Homage to the Ghosts?

On December 26, 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan blatantly paid homage to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A war criminals of World War II are honored. Abe claimed his homage as "expressing reverence for the 'heroes' who have sacrificed for Japan", and said that in the near future he would pay visits to the former battle fields in several South Pacific island countries to pay respect to the "souls" of the Japanese soldiers who died in the Pacific War.

It is known to all that for over a hundred years, the Yasukuni Shrine has been the spiritual instrument and symbol of Japanese militarism in its war of aggression. Enshrined there are 14 Class A war criminals such as Hideki Tojo and Doihara Kenji and many other war criminals convicted by Tokyo International Military Tribunal after the world anti-Fascist War. Nearly 70 years ago, under the guise of establishing a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere", Japanese militarists waged the vicious war of aggression against China and other countries in Asia, and also brought wars to the South Pacific, inflicting untold calamities on the people of the invaded countries. The Japanese war criminals had their hands stained with the blood of innocent people, committed numerous heinous atrocities and brought indescribable sufferings to the people in the affected places.

Nearly 70 years have passed since the end of World War II. Abe still dares risking universal condemnation to openly pay homage to the "ghosts" by paying "respect" and "worship" to those war criminals that had long been nailed to the shame pillar of history. What's even worse, Abe has plans to pay "respect" to the Japanese invaders overseas in the South Pacific region. What Abe did is not only a brazen challenge to international justice, extreme contempt to human conscience, but also an open profanity to all the victimized people and sheer deception to Japan's civilians who also suffered from the torture of war.

People in the world cannot help asking: What is Abe trying to do? According to Abe's logic, paying homage to the dead war criminals is for peace and a way to encourage the Japanese people in their fight to "recapture a strong Japan". How can anyone in this world understand such logic? Ever since the end of World War II, the Japanese Government has been reluctant to completely settle its history of aggression. The Japanese right-wing forces have been continuously denying Japan's history of aggression, by means such as tampering historical textbooks, denying the "Nanjing Massacre" and paying homage to the Yasukuni Shrine. What they still cherish is the old dreams of militarism. Today, Abe stubbornly insists on his wrong view of history, guiding and bewitching common Japanese people to pursue a "strong Japan" through the "Bushido" spirit once held by the Japanese invaders. Isn't this a deliberate denial of Japan's history of aggression and open backing for Japanese right-wing forces? The facts have fully exposed Abe's political attempt to overturn the outcome of the world anti-Fascist war and undermine the post-war international order. It would be proven again that should Abe persisted in taking the wrong path, he would eventually be cast aside by all the people who love peace in the world including the Japanese people.

History cannot be distorted, while justice cannot be betrayed. Abe's homage to the Yasukuni Shrine is by no means simply a religious or cultural matter. The essence of the issue is whether Japanese leaders can correctly view and seriously reflect on its past aggression and colonial rule, whether Japan can truly abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and follow the road of peace. Therefore, if Japan really wants to win respect from the international community and forgiveness from the victimized people, it has no other choice but to honestly own up to the historical fact of its aggression war and sincerely offer apologies to the war victims.

In order to prevent repeating of the tragic history, all people in the world who love peace should unite themselves in safeguarding the victorious outcomes of the world anti-Fascist War and maintaining the post-war international order, which were achieved with the loss of lives and blood of hundreds of millions of people. We will never allow Abe to turn back the wheel of history. China stands ready to work with the international community to jointly uphold historical justice and safeguard world peace.

(This article is authored by H.E. HUANG Yong, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Fiji.)