Chief Editor’s Column: The West Should Take a Fresh Look at History

With regard to historical issues, while Japan is trying to improve its historical understanding of the last world war, China and Korea are fixed into a pattern of remonstration.

When people in Japan recently said that we need to revise our masochistic view of history that sees “Japan as an aggressor nation”, China and Korea inevitably attacked it as “a revival of militarism”. Now America is joining in the attacks.
When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inaugurated his government last December, he indicated a plan to revise the Kono and Murayama statements. The Obama administration conveyed its “concern” to the Abe administration, and the U.S. Congressional Research Service issued a report. It said, “(Mr Abe) has a revisionist view of history that denies the history of aggression”. He also drew concentrated fire in the American mass media in “Prime Minister Abe Cannot Face Up to History” (a Washington Post editorial).

Prime Minister Abe was also forced to revoke his review of the Kono and Maruyama statements.


The Okawa Statement Also Asks the West to Revise Its Understanding of History

The Kono Statement recognized the forcible transportation of comfort women, and the Murayama Statement apologized for Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression”. These two statements condemn Japan as a “despicable country” and fetter its diplomacy and national defense. As a result, the revision of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, in order to “possess a national defense” force, something that it is perfectly natural for a state to possess, has been put on the back burner.
As the Chinese military threat grows stronger in the waters around Okinawa, Master Ryuho Okawa, the Founder and CEO of the Happy Science Group, in July issued “The Okawa Statement – My Proposal“, which invalidates the Kono and Murayama statements. It was written to serve as reference material for the statement that the government should issue in the near future regarding historical perception.

In addition, The Okawa Statement not only sweeps away Japan’s masochistic view of history, but also seeks to revise the West’s understanding of history by looking back over the past few centuries.

In other words, Japan may need to revise its understanding of history, but the West also needs to do so as well.


The History of the Past 500 Years Had Been One of Western Aggression

The history, that the West should review, is that of the past 500 years, and its thorough advancement and colonizations of Asia and Africa.

The world has been shrouded in the racism of white supremacy ever since the Age of Discovery, for example, the massacre of indigenous peoples on the American continent, the black slave trade, and the colonization of Asia and Africa. Racism was also behind the dropping of the Atomic bombs on Japan.

The West has never apologized for this past. Successive American presidents have failed to issue formal apologies for the massacre of the Indians and the black slave trade (although there have been individual cases of expressions of regret and payments of compensation). America has not apologized for its colonial rule of the Philippines, nor has it for dropping the Atomic bombs on Japan.

Neither has Britain, which built an empire of colonies, ever apologized to countries such as India, Burma, and Malaysia. Neither has France ever apologized for its colonial rule in Vietnam and Cambodia.

When he visited Algeria in December 2012, French President Hollande said that France’s 130-year colonial rule “was brutal and unfair”, but he did not offer any apology. He deliberately abstained from doing so, and said, “I have not come here to express regrets or apologies”.

The reason, why the West does not apologize for its acts of aggression and colonial rule, is that they thought it was the white man’s duty to bring the advanced civilization of Europe to backward countries. This belief has been partially inherited by today’s administrations, and words of apology do not come easily from the various heads of state.

For example, the prosperity of Hong Kong and Singapore today is built upon the economic infrastructure established during British rule. When Japan ruled Korea and Taiwan it invested more in their educational and urban infrastructure than it did in its own areas, thus laying the foundations for their post-war prosperity. There are some similarities here.


Increasing Pressure on the West to Apologize

However, over the past 20 years or so there has been increasing pressure on the West to apologize.

In 2009, the year that President Obama was inaugurated in office, the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution apologizing to African-Americans who were the victims of slavery and racial discrimination. The resolution recognized “the fundamental injustice, cruelty and brutality of slavery and racial discrimination” and proclaimed that it “apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the American people”.
When President Obama visited Africa this June, there were no actual words of apology, but he did visit a former slave trade fort in Senegal.

In 2009, President Obama did, at one time, consider a visit to the A-bombed city of Hiroshima. Whistle-blowing site “Wikileaks” later revealed that the Japanese government blocked the visit because it was “premature”. When he heard these particulars, the United States Ambassador to Japan John Roos attended the ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in August 2010, the first representative of the U.S. government to do so.

For America, the advent of its first non-white president was an opportunity to review the history of its white supremacy.


Victims in Latin America and Africa

Throughout the history of humankind, it is hard to find anything to match the West’s global aggression.

In the 16th century, Spain overthrew the Aztec and Incan empires and killed as many as 30 million indigenous people (some say as many as 90 million). When they ran out of labor for their gold and silver mines, they launched the slave trade from Africa, in which the Netherlands, Britain, and France also took part.

By the mid-19th century, 15 million blacks had crossed the Atlantic. They were chained up in cramped ship holds during the voyage, more than half of them were said to have died en route. It possibly means that nearly 100 million blacks were abducted and forcibly transported.

At the time of the American Civil War, around 4 million people were being treated like livestock, mainly on the plantations in the South. Such a case, where a nation deliberately and systematically engaged in human trafficking on such a scale, is unprecedented.

Before that the American whites had dispossessed the indigenous people of their lands, and at least the 2 million Indians, who lived there around the year 1500, had been reduced to a mere 350,000 four hundred years later.


Discrimination Against People of Color Is No Different From the Discrimination Against the Jews

The only Asian countries that did not become colonies of the West were Japan and Thailand.

The Netherlands had the indigenous people of Indonesia remain illiterate and, in order to prevent insurrections, forbade more than three people to stand around talking. Britain ruled over countries such as India, Burma (Myanmar), and Malaysia, where they rigorously suppressed riots, gunning down or burning to death groups of insurgents.

America overthrew King Kamahameha of the independent kingdom of Hawaii and incorporated it into the U.S. in 1898. In that same year, it won the Spanish-American War and acquired the Philippines, which it made into an American colony, suppressing the independence movement.

America had for the first time gained a foothold in Asia, and its interests clashed with those of the emerging nation of Japan. It was gaining power at the same time, and before long, a war between Japan and America became thought of as inevitable. During the last world war, America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, claiming 200,000 civilians as their victims. As many as 330,000 people died in the indiscriminate bombings of more than 200 Japanese cities. Be it from atomic bombs or indiscriminate bombings, there probably is no precedent in history for so many victims being produced in such a short space of time.

In the 1930s, nearly 60% of the Earth’s surface belonged to the four countries of Britain, America, France, and the Soviet Union. Britain had snatched territory more than 100 times the size of its own in Asia and Africa, while the Netherlands had snatched land 60 times the size of its own.

The massacre of the Jews by the Nazis in the last world war was a heart-breaking tragedy, but the discrimination against and slaughter of people of color by the West during the course of a few centuries is not all that different from the discrimination against the Jews. Was it really only the Hitler of Nazi Germany in the last world war that was a “devil”? I’m sorry to say that in some ways it has to be said that in the history of the past few centuries, the West was under the influence of some kind of devils.


The Influence of the Old Testament “God of Wrath”?

Colonial rule by the West was an integration of troops, traders, and Christian missionaries.

Massacres and the slave trade were the product of the Catholic Church of the day’s interpretation that Indians and blacks have no souls.

In addition to which, the influence of the god who appears in the Old Testament cannot be denied. Countless massacres and purges appear in the Old Testament.

In the Book of Numbers, that god takes the lives of 24,000 people as divine retribution when the people of Israel broke the commandments prohibiting adultery and the worship of idols. What is more, he ordered Moses to take revenge on the Medes who had instigated such behavior, and had him kill all the men and massacre women who were not virgins.

It says in the book of Joshua that, at the order of this god, Joshua and his companions attacked the other races living in Canaan and “utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword”.

Judaism is strictly monotheistic, but in fact, two types of god, Yahweh and Elohim, appear in this canon of the Old Testament. Yahweh is the national god of Israel and has strong characteristics of a wrathful god. Elohim is a god of love and compassion whose faith transcends ethnic and national boundaries.

It was Yahweh, who ordered the purges of the Israeli people and the destruction of other races (in the Old Testament Yahweh is written as “Lord” while Elohim is written as “God”).

The tales of intolerance and cruelty based on Yahweh’s orders might well have become the foundation of the West’s mentality in its aggression and colonial rule.


“Westerners would like to believe that the Japanese have been involved in the slave trade and massacres, too.”

If the cruel stories of the Old Testament are “common knowledge” to Westerners, it is inevitable that they would think, “I believe that Japan also committed atrocities during the war.”

At the International Military Tribunal for the Far East held in Occupied Japan, America created the fiction of the “Rape of Nanking” where the Japanese Army massacred 200,000 people when it captured the capital. With regard to the Korean story that “the Japanese Army forcibly transported 200,000 Korean comfort women”, America has supported the assertion that “Japan trafficked sex slaves”, even though there was absolutely no proof or evidence.

Resolutions are being adopted in America and various European parliaments calling for the Japanese government to make formal apologies to the “comfort women” and to pay compensations, and monuments are being erected to the comfort women. Thanks to campaigns by Korean organizations, Westerners are probably relieved that the Japanese, of course, also engaged in the slave trade.


Japan’s “War of Self-Defense” Against Colonialism and Communism

What was the real situation regarding Japan’s invasion and rule of Asia, and of The Greater East Asian War?

The latter half of the 18th century, when Japan accomplished its Meiji Restoration, was a period when America and Russia were pushing forward to acquire new colonies in East Asia, “the last frontier”.

The West’s “Division of China” started with the Opium War of 1840. Britain acquired Hong Kong and Shanghai as bases, and made the entire Yangtze River its sphere of influence. France controlled southern areas such as Canton, and Germany controlled the Shandong Peninusula. Russia established its supremacy in the northeast, from Manchuria to the Liaodong Peninsula.

In the face of the Western powers’ blatant expansion of their colonies in East Asia, Japan alone stood up and launched an offensive to overturn their 500-year domination of people of color.

In order to block Russia’s southward advance, Japan fought the First Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War, and was forced to annex and rule the Korean Peninsula as its “defense zone”.

When the Soviet Union came into being in 1922, one reason why Japan supported the founding of Manchukuo was to prevent East Asia from turning communist.

After the Russo-Japanese War, Japan and America came into direct conflict over their interests in China. In the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, America supported the Kuomintang, and in actuality, it entered a “war by proxy” against Japan. Japan was driven into a corner by such things as the post-Great Depression change to bloc economies, the formation of the anti-Japanese ABCD encirclement, and American oil embargoes, and this led to the outbreak of war between Japan and the U.S. in 1941.

In other words, Japan was forced to fight a “war of self-defense” against looming, white supremacist, colonial rule and communist expansion.

Japan cut East Asia and Southeast Asia free from the West, formed the “Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere” and aimed to establish self-sufficiency and a self-defense force in the region. With this in mind, in his testimony to the U.S. Congress after the war, General MacArthur clearly stated, “Their purpose, therefore, in going to war was largely dictated by security”.


Japan Smashed White Racial Discrimination

Not only that, Japan plunged into The Greater East Asian War proclaiming its just causes of “liberating Asia from Western colonialism and abolishing racial discrimination” and that “Asia must live in peace under the virtuous rule of the Emperor and Amaterasu Omikami”.

The Murayama Statement says that “Japan invaded Asian countries” but Japan fought against America, Britain, the Netherlands, and France, the countries that ruled over Asia. As for the Second Sino-Japanese War, that was an intervention in a civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, and was largely a proxy war against America and the Soviet Union.

Japan was ultimately defeated by the West, however, having seen for themselves how the Japanese had beaten the whites with their military might, the people of Asia rose up to fight for their liberty and after the war countries such as India, Indonesia, and Burma won their independence.

Although China continues to revile Japan over historical issues, it was thanks to Japan’s struggle that Western countries were chased out of China.

The Greater East Asian War was truly “a crusade to liberate our fellow Asians”. The Japanese were charged with a historic mission for mankind, even in a world that had been full of racism for about five centuries.

Before The Greater East Asian War, the world had only 69 independent countries, but now there are nearly 200. The vision of life “under the virtuous rule of the Emperor and Amaterasu Omikami” was not fulfilled because Japan lost the war. However, Japan’s self-sacrifice meant that the liberation of colonies and the abolishment of racial discrimination were successfully realized.


“Japan sacrificed itself in an act of benevolence”

Japanese junior high school history books record this period as follows.

“The Second World War ended with Japan’s surrender in August 1945. The people of Korea and Taiwan, which were colonized by Japan, and the people of China and Southeast Asia, which were invaded by the Japanese Army, rejoiced at their liberation.”

Apart from China and Korea, where there was no freedom of speech when it comes to their historical views of the last world war, in reality the successive leaders and heads of states of Asian countries have demonstrated a way of thinking that is the complete opposite of these Japanese textbooks.

Thai Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj (1975-1976) published a poem entitled “December 8th” in a newspaper in 1955 while he was a writer.

“Thanks to Japan, all Asian countries became independent.

The mother, that was Japan, had a difficult childbirth, but the child she bore throve healthily.

That Southeast Asians can speak as equals with America and Britain is down to who exactly?

It is thanks to that mother, Japan, who ‘sacrificed herself as an act of benevolence’.

December 8th is the day on which the mother, who demonstrated this great ideology to us, made an important decision that put her own interests at stake.

August 15th is the day when our precious mother took to her sickbed.

We must never forget these two days.”


“The Greater East Asian War Was the War of the Asian People.”

When the war ended in 1945, the Dutch and British armies returned to Indonesia intending to continue their colonial rule. The Indonesian people rose up in a war of independence in which 2,000 Japanese officers and men took part in a volunteer army. After four and a half years of fierce fighting, Indonesia was able to smash 350 years of colonial rule.

One of the leaders in this war of independence, former Information Minister Bung Tomo, said as follows.

“The Japanese Army utterly overwhelmed the Americans, British, Dutch, and French before our very eyes. When we saw the weakness and shame of the whites, all the people of Asia gained confidence in the army and knew that independence was near. Once you have self-confidence it can never be destroyed. Right from the start, The Greater East Asian War was our war, and we had to fight it. (…) In spite of that, we let Japan shoulder the entire burden and pushed it to the brink of destruction. That was inexcusable.”

When he visited Japan as a special envoy of Indonesian President in the 1990s, former General Alamsya criticized the Murayama Statement as follows.

“Japan’s objective in the war was to overthrow colonialism. That objective has largely been achieved, but (colonialism) still remains in South Africa and Asia. Making the Murayama statement, at such a time, means abandoning that cherished vow to overthrow colonialism. (…) Prime Minister Murayama should have condemned the colonialism that still exists.”


“No Country Has Done as Much as Japan for Asia”

For the people of Malaysia, too, the strength of the Japanese Army as it repulsed the British Army in next to no time was an unforgettable sight. After the war, it was once again made a British colony, but there was no holding back the tide as the Malaysians sought their freedom. In 1957, Malaysia gained independence.
Mr Shafi , who as a diplomat and Foreign Minister played a leading role in Malaysian diplomacy, gave his candid opinion about Japan’s diplomacy of apology.

“What particularly disappoints me is that, although no country has done as much as Japan for Asia, Japanese politicians deny this fact. If they were responsible politicians, they would probably say something like this, ‘At that time most Asian countries had become colonies of the West, and it was as if there were no independent countries, the Japanese Army drove out the forces of the West'”.

Not only Southeast Asian leaders thought it. In the Western world as well, it was “common knowledge” that Japan had destroyed white colonial rule.

H.G. Wells, the British novelist and historian, made a prophecy about the future whose gist was that “Japan would bring about a new civilization”. He said as follows, “This great war put an end to colonialism and brought about equality between whites and people of color”.

The famed 20th century historian and historiographer of civilization, the Briton Alfred J. Toynbee, highly regarded Japan’s role.

“In World War II, it must be said that the Japanese bequeathed a great history, not to Japan, but to the countries that benefited from the war. Those countries are the ones that were included in Japan’s short-lived ideal that was the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere.”


It Is Japan That Is a “Guardian Deity of Peace and Justice”

Since the first half of the 21st century, China has been trying to revive, in a different form, the old colonial rule by the West. Chinese forces are now moving into the East China Sea, the South China Sea, the West Pacific Ocean, and even looking for a chance to control the Indian Ocean and Africa.

Southeast Asian heads of state, who knew the strength of the former Japanese Army, are “in complete agreement” (Indonesian President Yudhoyono) with Japan’s revision of Article 9 of its Constitution and the organization of a national defense force, and continue to welcome the idea.

In an interview with the British newspaper the Financial Times last December, Philippine Foreign Minister del Rosario declared that he would “strongly welcome” Japan’s “rearmament” to counteract China’s military might. Philippine National Defence Secretary Gazmin went even further and said, “The stationing of Japanese Self-Defence Force troops would be welcome”

Countries, with a real sense of the threat of China’s maritime expansion, particularly seek Japanese military presence.

Ever since the Meiji Era, Japan has been a “guardian of peace and justice” that has protected Asia from “unjust aggression”. Now that America is slowly stepping away from its role as “the world’s policeman”, Japan is being asked to take on the mission of “doing its best to bring perpetual peace to the world”. The Okawa Statement ” is the starting point for it.

Many Asian countries are under the military protection of the U.S., so they are, in fact, bound by the understanding of history that says, “In the last war, democratic America fought against the fascist country of Japan”. However, when Japan once again rises as a world leader, it will bring “freedom of speech” to the countries of Asia and Africa. No doubt, that will be when a review of the 500-year history of Western aggression and colonial rule will begin.

(Jiro Ayaori)

Chief Editor’s Column: The West Should Take a Fresh Look at History
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