Tuesday, August 16, 2005
victims of war?
Every year, as Asians 'celebrate' anniversary of Japan's war surrender, there is the inevitable question of whether Japan recognises their past mistakes. Every year, they read back their same speech of apology and repeat their proclaimation of regret. And every year, they never fail to outrage people when their leaders visit the Yasukuni war shrine to pay tribute to the soldiers who died for their country. Labels: current issues
But I question....why the fuss over something that happened 60 years ago?
Every country has a war shrine of some sorts, and everybody pays tribute to their countrymen killed in wars. So why is it any different that Japan are not allowed to commemerate their dead soldiers, just because there are 14 so called war criminals enshrined there as well?
On the topic of war criminals, isn't ironic that human beings can commit the ultimate atrocity of killing each other......and still find the time to prosecute the losers for 'ungentlemanly war conduct'? But hey, in wars, the good thing about being on the winnning side is that you get to write the history books.
During my recent holidays in Germany, I met an old German guy, a friend of my dad's. It's hard not to bring up the subject of war when sightseeing in Germany. In the large cities, you will be hard pressed to find buildings older than 60 years old. Why? Buildings older than that were flattenned by bombs.
So anyways, I was in the town of Freiburg where that German guy was our tour guide, telling us many stories of the war. Freiburg is a small town south of Germany, bordering Switzerland and about half an hour from Basel. There were no industrial activities in Freiburg, and geographically, being a town bordering the neutral Switzerland, it was of no military significance. However, nearing the end of the war, Freiburg was flattened by a series of bombings by Allied troops. Relatively untouched for most of the war, the civilians were unprepared. As many as 5000 people died in one night, all for a town which was of no use to either side.
He also ranted on and on about how history books seem to forget mentioning the days in Germany after liberation. Allied troops committed the same atrocities as the Nazis, he claimed. They robbed, looted and raped the Germans. "Here's something to be quiet about," he whispered, "6 million Jews....that's an exaggeration. But if the police hears you disputing that figure, they throw you in jail." This is where the Germans and the Japanese government differ in stark contrast. The Germans admitted to every accusation thrown at them as an effort to show the world that they have learned their lesson. The Japanese don't seem to give in that easily.
Of course, only a fool would believe everything he said. He is, afterall German. He did, afterall see his father get thrown in jail by the Allied forces for spreading propoganda. But if the same applies, then surely the history books are biased too? I remember learning about this in school, and questioning, WHY did World War II start? My teacher told me that it was because Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
Of course, it was true, but Sejarah Tingkatan Empat doesn't teach kids to think further into that subject. They skimmed through the issue just a little, but never making an emphasis on the Versailles Treaty after World War I. WW2 was just a menifestation of that treaty. Hitler was so pissed with the treatment that Germany received (as opposed to Italy), that he became obsessed with 'evening the odds', and that is why he went to war.
Back to Japan, realise that most of the hoo-hah comes from China and South Korea, two countries which have centuries old rivalry with Japan, and hence the bad blood. You could argue that they were the ones who bore the brunt of Japan's brutalities during the war, but surely it is all in the past, where one could argue that mankind was more barbaric? Why the fuss over leaders visiting a shrine? Why the anger over the Japanese 'not facing up to their past'?
Time heals all. In another 20 years, nobody alive could say that they fought in the war. Only a handful of people could say that they remember the war at all. If there is an insistance that Japan should face their past, then surely the rest of the world should also stop harbouring on past deeds and look to the future, and let time engulf this whole mess..
Labels: current issues
I know some people who were directly killed or raped by Japanese. It is important to teach the correct history to the next generation so at least we don’t have to hear about some Japanese people saying Japanese people benefited Koreans during the war.
Everyone should read this to widen their knowledge