(Archived document, may contain errors) On the Pearl Harbor Anniversary, Japan Still Says, "Don't Blame Me" By Seth Cropsey In his Guide to the CorMosition of Poevy, the twelfth century Japanese scholar, Fujiwara no Teika, wrote that there are no teachers of Japan's poetry. The ancient verses t hemselves instruct; and of those people who are capable of absorbing their poetical forms and learning the words by heart, who among them, he asks, will fail to write poetry? This is not merely a tribute to the elegance of Japanese poetry. It is rather a u niversal statement about education: a teacher may coax or inspire or illuminate, but the idea itself is what truly instructs. Nfissing today in the ideas that Japan's educational system teaches its secondary school students is an account of Japan's record in Asia during the years that led up to the beginning of World War 111. Absent is a complete record of her imperial ambitions in the neighboring countries of China and Korea, of her provocation and slaughter in the former, and subjugation of the latter. A l though facts about the attack on Pearl Harbor are presented, the war that followed is covered scantily. Indeed, a recent New York Times Magazine article by Steve Weisman reported the complaints of a Japanese high school teacher who had just introduced his students to the war with the United States. The first thing they asked was, "Who won?" Anniversaries, such as the one we will observe on December 7 of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, offer an appropriate moment to look back in time. However, the proper re a son for doing so is not to rekindle old anger or open aging wounds. It is rather to combine the perspective of the years which have passed with our knowledge of history to look with increased understanding into the future. Fundamental Questions. Tensions b etween the U.S. and Japan have been growing for some time now. And while those strains are not proof of a future break in the relationship, they-together with the history we recall today-are good reason to ask fundamental questions about the character of J apan's po- litical regime, and of her commitment to the principles she accepted during the American occupation. What does Japan's refusal to acknowledge an important part of her recent history mean? Are our basic ideas of right and wrong so foreign to Jap a n that it is impossible for her to render a moral judgment about the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians? Or, is it the very shamefulness of her deeds that makes it so hard to admit them? True, there are strong bureaucratic and political interests t o day that exert profound influence cover the textbook debate which is the crucible for Japan's domestic argument over its history, but they do not change the conclusion: Japan will not look its history in the face. And that refusal should worry Japan's fri e nds and allies, of which the United States is the staunchest. Not only because Japan's unwillingness to teach the rising generations about her past contradicts her admirable respect for education; not only because it flies in the face of Japan's unique ve n eration of the past, and not only because; it clashes so violently with her people's belief in the healing power of reflec- tion and self-examination. Tokyo Re-emerging. No. The significance of Japan's reluctance to recognize her deeds is simply this: Fif ty years after Pearl Harbor, following a period of vigorous economic growth that has lasted decades, and topped off recently by Japan's dispatch of naval vessels to missions in the Persian Gulf far from her Seth Cropsey is the Director of the Asian Studies Center of The Heritage Foundation. He spoke at The Heritage Foundation on November 25, 199 1. ISSN 0272-1155. C 1991 by The Heritage Foundation.
borders, Tokyo is re-emerging as an international power. She is questioning what her role in the world shou ld be, where her foreign policy interests He, and how to achieve them. Japan's sense of being victim ized by the outcome of World War H, and her sense of shame which, I believe, grows more from having lost rather than having started a great conflagration a re for moral philosophers to lay up. It is clear that her people suffered grievously in a war their leaders began, and it is possible--however such things am gauged-that in human misery the World War H accounts between America and Japan cancel each other, or it is even conceivable that because of the devastation brought upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American nuclear weapons, the Japanese feel a moral debt owed them. This is understandable, but wrong. Unlike Japan, the U.S. harbored no imperial ambition; i t was dragged against its will into a war it had sought to avoid. But American and Japanese perceptions notwithstanding, there is no historical balance in Tokyo's relations with many of its Asian neighbors. And with nations as with individuals, how one dea l s with those who are closest is a critical measure of one's own character. The failure to acknowledge great injustices committed in China and Korea is a fail.! ure to treat the peoples of those neighboring countries as equals, as men and women whose perso nal suf- fering deserves to be understood throughout the land so that it will not happen again, This recognition education alone bestows.
As "checkbook diplomac, y" cannot give Tokyo a real foreign policy, the informal compensations Japan has in various fo rms rendered to China and Korea do not demonstrate a true change of heart. Until Japan shows that such a change has occurred; until it is clear that she regards her neighbors as completp equals, even her friends, such as the United States, will question w h ether she is entirely prepared to be- come a full participant in the international community. Contrition is not what is called for. What is needed here is the truth. After summarizing her deeds in Asia during the war that began there in 1937 when Japan in v aded China, and which served as an overturt to World War H, I will look at how Japan teaches the history of those bitter years, and conclude with some thoughts about the future. - Harsh Spirit. Japanis modem colonial adventures began in earnest in 1894. N e ar the mouth of the Yalu River, and to the surprise of nearly everyone, she defeated the flotilla China had purchased from German and British shipyards during the previous decade. The Sino-Japanese conflict also saw the diverr sion of growing Japanese ult r a-nationalism into a new and harsh spirit directed against China. Songs be. came popular with such verses as: Evil Chinamen drop like flies, swatted by our Murata rifles and struck by our swords. Our troops move ahead, our troops fight away. Chinese soldi e rs massacred everywhere. What a sight! in the treaty negotiations that followed Japan's victory, China ceded possession of Taiwan and the Manchurian peninsula known as Kwantung. But@ other nations were watching closely: Russia nour- ished Far East ambitio n s of her own. In 1895, she prevailed upon Germany and France to join in forc- ing Japan out of the Kwantung Peninsula. Petersburg waited three years, claimed the Kwantung for it- self, and promptly linked the contested peninsula's- southernmost ports, Dai r en and Port Arthur, to the re cently completed Trans-Siberian Railway. Japan's anger at this straightforward display of international hypocrisy produced the seed from which sprang the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. When Admiral Heihachiro Togo crushed the Ru s sian Fleet at the Straits of Tsushima on May 27, 1905, Japan triumphed over her European enemy and.emerged as a world power. President Theodore Roosevelt received the Nobel 'Peace prize for his diplomacy.in.bring- in the -,wQmp_qt.com a4mts together to si p,the Treaty of Portsmoqth.(New Hampshire). And Japan rerceived Russia's acknowledgment of her "paramount interesf 'in Korea as well as title to Russia's claims in the Kwantung Peninsula, and a large chunk of Sakhalin Island. Annexing Korea. Tokyo's han ds in Korea were now freed. Prime Minister Ito made it a Japanese pror tectorate in November 1905, and appointed himself Resident General. Japanese nationals replaced Ko- reans in the executive and judicial branches of the Seoul government while the Korea n armed forces were disarmed and sent home. When eminent Koreans began committing suicide in protest, parts of the subjugated nation rose up. The rebellion was ruthlessly subdued. Japanese troops torched the country- side, killing 12,000 Koreans within a y e ar. In 19 10 Tokyo annexed the unhappy neighbor it had renamed Chosen, but political incorporation only called attention to the conquering power's treatment of its subjects. Koreans-like the Taiwanes were refused representation in Japan's Diet. The Japane s e expropriated vast tracts of Korean-owned lands. When dispossessed Koreans sought employment in Japan, they found instead low-paying jobs and open contempt. Continuing popular resentment kept occupation forces busy, but Tokyo was achieving its foreign po l icy goals. With colonial administrations and troops firmly established in Korea, Taiwan, and southern Manchuria, Japan had staked her claim to membership in the international circle of imper- -ial powers. Propelled by the momentum of colonial success on t h e Korean Peninsula, and taking full advantage of the European nations' determination to soak the Belgian forests with blood, Japan in 1915 shifted atten- tion to China. As a British ally, Tokyo had entered World War I opposed to the Axis powers, and then s eized Berlin's possession in Chirm the province of Shandong. Japan now presented a document known as the Twenty-One Demands which forced the Chinese government to accept this fait accompli, and ex- acted other economic concessions in Manchuria and Eastern Mongolia. Between the end of the Great War and the 1920s Japanese interest and commercial activity in Manchu- ria continued to grow. A million of Japan's subjects lived in the southeastern Chinese region almost all of them Korean, and Japanese businessmen eventually accounted for three-quarters of foreign invest- ment in the province. Local, docile Chinese warlords governed at Tokyo's pleasure, much as ancient Rome administered her empire-through puppets. Eyeing Asia's Mainland. This usurious relationship s ailed along calmly until the late 1920s when -China's nationalists began to stir. A boycott of foreign goods and short-lived truce between the Kuomintang and fledgling Chinese Communist party illuminated the danger of Japan's position in Man- churia, and g enerated a current of jingoist passions. In his 1929 book, Why Fear the United States?, the defense writer Ikezaki Tadakata pointed to Japan's serious overpopulation and asked, "Where should we find an outlet for these millions? ... the only.remaining are a is the Asian mainland." A lieutenant colonel of the Kwantung Army, Ishiwara Kanji published a proposal to address the gathering problem in China. In it he noted that "the future of Manchuria and Mongolia will only be satisfactorily decided when Japan obt a ins those areas. Japan," he continued, "must expand overseas to achieve political stability at home." Rejecting the diplomatic and commercial incentives advocated by Tokyo's civilian political leaders to patch relations with Manchuria, Lieutenant Colonel I shiwara along with other mid-level officers of the Kwantung Army took matters into their own hands. A convenient provocation materialized on the rail- way tracks just outside the southern Manchurian city of Mukden near where the lines from Pusan, Port Art h ur, and Tientsin meet. There, on the evening of September 18, 193 1, a bomb exploded. Within hours a major attack on the Chinese garrison in Mukden had been ordered, and the entire Kwantung Army mobilized. In Tokyo, the divided cabinet of Prime Minister W akatsuki looked on im-
:3potently while Japan's army in Manchuria widened the hostilities, invading lands beyond the railway zone which had, until then, formed the boundary of colonial jurisdiction. Rogue Military. Ile senior officers of the Kwantung Ar my kept their own counsel, ignored the re- quests of their nominal civilian masters in Tokyo for information on their ultimate objectives, and con- tinued to advance. By the spring of 1932 the entire province of Manchuria had fallen to Japan's rogue milit a ry. The next January the Kwantung Army took possession of the coastal city of Shankaikwan. From there it moved west to occupy the inner Mongolian province of Jehol. Skirmishes between the Kwantung Army and ineffective Chinese opposition forces flared the n ext four years. But more import- ant, tensions grew as Tokyo watched Soviet strength in its Far Eastern provinces increase to 240,000 vice Japan's 160,000 troops in Manchuria. Heightening the imperial power's strategic anxiety was the possibility that Chi a ng Kai-shek's Nationalist government in Nanjing might form an alliance with Mos- cow allowing it to threaten Japan's continental position from the South. In July 1937, a local clash be- tween Chinese and Japanese forces at the Marco Polo bridge in Beijing quickly led to full-scale war. By the middle of November the outflanked Chinese military had been all but routed. Advancing swiftly up the Yangtze Delta, Japanese forces launched a systematic campaign against noncombatants. An American who had lived in Ch i na over 30 years witnessed and later published an account of the ae- rial bombardment of the undefended city of Suzhou, and its subsequent looting. Fifty-eight miles south- west of Nanjing, the city of Wuhu fell on December 10. Civilians attempting to esc a pe by sailing across the Yangtze river were machine-gunned, and foreign nationals' property stolen or smashed. This, how- ever, was only a prelude to the devastation of Chiang Kai-shek's capital. Rape of Nanjing. The Japanese Army came upon the city with i ts sword raised high. Nanjing fell on December 13. What followed was ugly even when measured against the surpassingly cruel record of the twentieth century. Prior to the triumphant arrival of the commanding general Matsui Iwane, thou- sands of men in civi l ian clothing who looked as though they may have discarded their Chinese army uni- forms were rounded up, tied together in bunches, and shot. Over the next six weeks, Nanjing became a catalogue of horrors. Young girls, their mothers, and old women were dra g gedfrom their living places and raped by Japanese soldiers in every quarter of the burning city. Foreign eyewitnesses reported the sound of executions by gunfire around the clock, of small children bayoneted multiple times, of passers- by hauled off the s t reet and put to death for no apparent reason except the spreading and unchecked bloodlust of the occupying forces. Before order was restored, the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal later estimated that some 142,000 innocent men, women, and children were slain. Ove r a half century later the textbooks approved by Japan's Ministry of Education speak of Nanjing, the war against China, and the subjugation of Korea in phrases so untroubled by detail that it is impossi- ble to understand what happened or guess that any qu estions of moral culpability were raised by the events described. In its fourth chapter, a textbook for high schoolers entitled History ofJapanese Studies and published in 1977 explains that Japan's army moved-and "moved" is the precise word-into Shanghai in July 1937, and that a "strong faction" among politicians and the military advocated the use of "harsh meth- ods." Without explaining what this could possibly mean, students are then informed that, although some military opinion held that victory would be swift, the facts were otherwise. Then, almost inciden- tally, the text declares that "Nanjing was occupied" -again, "occupied!' is the word-in December of 1937. End of subject.
4A 1987 high school textbook, The National History ofJapan, is even more opaque. Nanjing is men- tioned as the 1928 Nationalist Chinese capital. The next time the city's name appears, students are told that a Japanese-supported government was established there in February 1940. And, that's it. The attack on the Nanjing is simp l y written out of existence. Another recent Japanese textbook for high school students observes that, "in the 12th month of the same year [1937, i.e.], the Japanese forces occupied Nanjing." True, a footnote admits that.Japanese sol- diers killed many Chin e se noncombatants, but the force of this admission is dulled by the text's claim that the deaths occurred in "a sweep for stragglers," and by its remarkable conclusion that the episode, "stirred up anti-Japanese consciousness in China." As though the Chine s e deserve some portion of blame for feeling angry at those who put them to the sword. Toothless Combs. Japan's early twentieth century subjugation of Korea, its subsequent effort to eradi- cate Korean national identity, and the virtual enslavement of mill i ons of Koreans as part of Japan's war effort are brushed with an equally toothless comb. A December 1988 New York Times article reprinted excerpts from a New Detafled Japanese History on the occupation of Korea: In 1905, Japan concluded an unofficial agre e ment between the United States and then revised the treaty of alliance between Japan and Britain, and made both countries acknowledge Japan's control over Korea as its protectorate. Based on this, Japan deprived Korea of its diplomatic rights and establis h ed a supervisory government .. Then Japan assumed authority over Korea's domestic policy. Another current history for high school students describes Japan's effective seizure of the Korean government's reins of power as though force and intimidation were n ever involved, they were; as though the loss of Korean sovereignty was an orderly process mutually agreeable to both nations. It was not. "Me first Japanese-Korean Agreement was concluded in 1904," says the book, and then matter-of- factly, "the second Ja p anese-Korean Agreement was concluded in 1905 which extended Japanese con- trol over Korean foreign affairs and set up a Korean supervisory government in Seoul." It's as though a textbook in this country were to say no more about the mistreatment of Americ a n Indi- ans in the nineteenth century than to describe it as an act necessitated by expansion westward during which the U.S. Army assumed a supervisory role in the conduct of the rebellious tribes' affairs. Lest there be any doubt, let me assure you that A merican textbooks say nothing of the sort. They are quite explicit about this sad and unjust episode in our history. Closer to modern events, Germany's textbooks have long provided an accurate report of Nazi responsi- bility for starting World War H in Eu r ope, and for the regime's effort to destroy European Jewry. Photo- graphs of the deathcamps, their doomed and murdered inmates, and descriptions of the machinery of death carry the facts of this national crime forward in the minds of the young. Ministry's Control. Animportant procedural obstacle to a similar Japanese acknowledgment of its twentieth century history is the Ministry of Education's effective central control over the editorial con- tent of the entire nation's wxtbooks. Since 1886, when the Meij i rulers took alarm at the spread of West- ern political ideas like democracy, the Ministry of Education's authority to shape the minds of young stu- dents had grown luxuriantly. By the time of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, her educational system had bec o me a national instrument to assure students' fervent patriotism, their veneration of the emperor, and more than a little contempt for foreigners like the Chinese. After World War H, American occupation forces tried to cut back the Ministry of Education's considerable central powers.
5But old habits are hard to break. Effective authority seeped back to the Ministry in the 1950s and '60s as it took increasing advantage of a textbook screening law passed in 1949 for the original purpose of preventing the inclusion of ultranationalist ind o ctrination in teaching material. Turning this authority on its head, the Ministry eventually applied it to weaken textbooks' descriptions of Japan's wartime deeds. The Ministry also started. to supply local school districts with textbooks free of charge. T oday, the local boards are free to decline a particular text, but only from a selection approved by Tokyo. The na- tional government remains firmly in control of the material taught throughout the land. Politicization of Textbooks. A direct result has bee n the national politicization of the textbook issue. After simmering for decades, it erupted in 1982 when the Education Ministry in Tokyo stepped up its ef- fort to dilute textbook accounts of Japan's twentieth century aggression against her neighbors. The offic- ially-sanctioned revisions have caused a series of embarrassing incidents which will continue to vex Tokyo so long as it insists0n tailoring the facts to political purposes. In 1982, the new textbooks authorized by the Education Ministry changed th e description of Japan's 1931 invasion of China frcm "aggression" to an "advance." The atrocity in Nanjing was dismissed with- out elaboration as a "mob confusion," in which "innumerable civilians and soldiers were killed." Under- standably angry, Beijing a ccused the Ministry of vying to "obliterate from the memory of Japan's youn- ger generation the history of Japan's aggression against China and other Asian countries so as to lay the basis for reviving militarism." The new books shrugged off Japan's annex a tion of Korea as well calling it too an "advance." The co- lonial rulers' ban on the Korean language was turned into, "education in the Japanese language." And, although the last Korean king, Kojong, was forced by the Japanese to abdicate, the 1982 books s aid he had "resigned." Seoul was incensed. When Japan's Education Minister He1ji Ogawa stonily refused comment for six weeks, Korean demonstrators took to the streets urging a break in diplomatic ties and a ban on Japanese imports. Newspaper articles arou n d the world recorded this most recent reminder of Asian fractiousness, and ambassadors registered objections. The incident subsided with Tokyo's promise to address Seoul's concerns, an expression of Japan's intention "not to repeat such past deeds." The E d ucation Ministry also pledged China that it -would, "seriously self-examine the great harm Japan inflicted upon the Chi- nese people during the 1937-1945 war." However, when another high school history text appeared four years later, the promised self-exa m ina- tion had not taken place, or-as the darker interpretation put it-maybe it had. Of the events that oc- curred in Nanjing, the 1986 version explained that, "research has been continuing." China's Foreign Ministry promptly accused Japan of failing to ho n or its 1982 promise. Through official channels, the Chinese claimed that the book, "grossly distorts the history of the Sino-Japanese war." Again, officials in Japan's Foreign and Education ministries became involved in the effort to turn aside internatio n al accusations, and in the end no one was very satisfied at all. Professor's Lawsuit. Three years after the 1986 incident, the Tokyo District Court upheld the Educa- tion Ministry's right to soften a textbook's account of history. This elicited a comment f rom South Korea's ruling Democratic Justice Party which accused Japan of "trying to justify" its recent aggressive history. The author of the textbook, Saburo Ienaga is a retired professor of history who once taught at the Tokyo University of Education. l e naga has been filing law suits against the Education Ministry since 1965 when he tried to recover roy- aldes following the Ministry's rejection of his textbook, New History ofJapan. In a part of that suit that anyone who has ever been edited will understa nd, Professor lenaga also petitioned the court to compens-
6ate him'in cash for the mental stress induced by the 300 alterations he made to comply with the Ministry's original editorial suggestions. During the 1989 trial, Professor Ienaga testified th at the Ministry eviscerated passages describing how Japanese soldiers had killed civilians and raped women in the 1937 sack of Nanjing, and how references to a Japanese army unit's "human body experiments' on thousands of Chinese had been deleted entirely . Pasdonate Debate. No doubt the effort to appear conciliatory was behind the court's finding that the government had indeed abused its editorial authority: Ienaga was awarded $700 compensation for the Ministry's reworking of a passage that discussed a vol u nteer army recruited to support the Emperor in the 19th century. The court's attempt at face-saving had no affect on Ienaga who vowed, "to continue this fight to my death." His remark offers a clear picture of the depth of passion on both sides of the tex t book debate within Japan, and it is not surprising how hody fought and bitterly contested the issue is. Rather it is a testi- mony to the extremely serious view Japan's people take of education, a portrait of the acrimonious divi- sions between leftists a n d conservatives, and a telltale to the winds of internationalism which are now blowing stronger in Japan thart at any time since World War H ended. When U.S. occupation forces decided to change the ultranationalistic message of the Japanese public educati o n system, they aimed first at the Education Ministry's nearly total control, transferring some of its authority to prefectural and local levels. In addition, the occupation forces transformed the ends of public education: reverence for the state and its l e aders was replaced by less authoritarian and more dem- ocratic goals. Finally, teachers were allowed to form unions. Mission accomplished, the Americans de- parted. Japanese leftists then took control of the teachers' union. Headed by socialists, the Japa n Teachers Union (JTU) pursued a leftist political curriculum in the class- room, and maneuvered to substitute its own power for the control which postwar Education Ministry of- ficials were made to relinquish. Conservative Japanese, quite naturally, resis t ed. As a result, says Thomas P. Rohlen in his 1983 study of Japan's high schools, the occupation forces' goal of political neutrality for Japan's public education system has never been realized. Far from it. The issue is as intensely politicized as it is p olarized-both domestically and internationally. Japan's left finds their nation's brutalization of its Asian neighbors a useful illustration of capitalism's evils, so it agi- tates to include graphic accounts of the past in the classroom. When the more co n servative Education Ministry officials finish editing the passages that offend them, or when texts written by conservatives that glide silkily over the facts are published, word reaches Seoul and Beijing quickly. And the Korean and Chinese governments ent h usiastically exploit these unsought morsels from the past for current pur- poses whether they involve obtaining trade concessions from Japan or resolving the outstanding diplo- matic issue of the momem In the textbook debate, politics helps force both the left and the right away from the truth; the former to persist in Marxist drivel about history and the wickedness of capitalism, and the latter to deny what in fact happened. Outrageous Assertions. More destructive of Japan's interest, the domestic textboo k wars have re- cently escalated into attacks several national figures have launched on the public's understanding of the truth. In a Playboy magazine interview that appeared in the October 1990 issue, Shintaro Ishihara the Japanese writer, now politician, and author of The Japan That Can Say No, denied that any atrocity ever happened in Nanjing. "People say," he noted, "that the Japanese made a holocaust there, but that is not true. It is a story made up by the Chinese. It has tarnished the image of Japan, but it is a lie." Not even Masayuki Fujio, Education Minister under Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone until being sacked in 1986, would go as far as Ishihara. Mr. Fujio didn't deny the rape of Nanjing. He merely sug- gested that it wasn't such a. big deal. In the September 1986 issue of Bungei-Shunju published shortly
7before Nakasone fired him for causing a diplomatic flap by repeatedly stating that Japan's treatment of its Asian neighbors was justified, Fujio asserted that the 1937 massacre in Nanjin g did not violate inter- national law. "It is not murder under international law to kill in war," he said. In 1988, another minister left the Cabinet for similar reasons. Seisuke Okuno, head of the National Land Agency submitted his resignation to Prime M i nister Noboru Takeshita after his remarks touched off angry objections fromChina and South Korea. Mr. Okuno denied that Japan had been the aggressor in the war fought between 1937 and 1945. He insisted that the conflict in China had started "accidentally. " "Japan," he argued, "fought to protect itself at a time when the white race had turned Asia into a colony." Okuno offered these thoughts after returning from paying hisrespects at the Yasakuni Shrine, a Shinto holy place in Tokyo dedicated to the memory o f"Japan's 2.5 million war dead, and the seven "Class A" war criminals hanged for such war crimes as having "ordered, authorized, and permitted7' inhumane treatment of POWs and others, and of having "deliberately and recklessly disregarded their duty" to p r event atrocities. In one of his final com- ments, Okuno, who was 75 at the time he left the Cabinet, said that he wanted Japan, "to stop being pulled around by the ghost of the occupation forces." Open Sore. I believe this sentiment Hes at the heart of Ja p an's contentious view of its past. Professor Ienaga's 25-year dispute with the Education Ministry over its suppression of the facts identifies an itch on the Japanese body politic. Almost ten years ago, the irritant became an open sore. Why? Because Japan ' s leaders-foresaw their nation's reemergence as an important global power, blown in this direction not only by the need wisely to exploit her vast economic power, but for very immediate and pressing rea- sons. Jimmy Carter's 1979 abandonment of the U.S.-T a iwan Mutual Defense Treaty, and self-doubts linger- ing in the U.S. from Vietnam raised questions about Washington's capacity and will to hold up its end- the important one in Japan's eyes-of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. F ueling those doubts, Washington was urging Tokyo to take a larger role in its own defense, specifically to increase military spending and assume responsibility for its sealanes out to a thousand miles. To com- plete this darkening picture, the Soviet Unio n , in its final paroxysms of aggression, was bludgeoning Af- ghanistan, fomenting revolution on America's doorstep, and generally running wild in international streets. Japan must protect itielf. Embracing the long-term view for which they are justly famou s , it appears that one of the courses Japanese policy-makers adopted was to improve the nation's self-esteem by air- brushing history. There are, of course, other good explanations for why the textbook issue burst in the early 1980s: maneuvering with neigh b ors, and power shifts in the left-right squabble, to name a couple. What is not subject to scholarly dispute is the Ministry of Education's centrally-directed laundering of history. The diplomatic protestations Beijing and Seoul have been making since 198 2 should have registered by now in Tokyo, as should the concerns of Americans expressed over the years, and most recently by The New York Tbnes article I mentioned earlier. The ghosts Mr. Okuno wished to rid his country of will not be exorcised by ignoring them nor by pre- tending that the events they represent didn't happen or were insignificant. Clearly, the Education Minis- try cannot surrender its central authority for reviewing texts. It would slip inevitably into the hands of an energized, ideologica l ly left, and well-organized teachers union. But it is just as plain that, however honorable their motives, the impulse of Japanese conservatives to cloak the past in the untruthftd fabric of omission and misrepresentation is certain to be counter-producti ve. Tokyo's falsification of history will continue to provide the governments of mainland China and South Korea's with irresistible diplo-
8matic opportunities, and leave the rest of the world uncertain that Japan understands what it did well enough not to do it ag The time to correct this error is now. And, not only for the welcome political message which Tokyo would send the world were it to use the 50th anniversary of its attack on Pearl Harbor as an opportunity honestly to confront the past. The mor e important reason for closing the textbook controversy today was suggested by newly-elected Prime Nfinister Miyazawa in his November 8 speech to the Diet. "We must recognize," he said, "that our international role in the building of a global order for pea c e can only grow larger.19 A nation as wealthy and b-idustrious as Japan can be a great force for peace. But Japan's aversion to looking squarely at her past and accepting the moral judgment of her actions will leave other nations wondering quite naturaRy w hat internal sense of conduct will guide the way she treats others in seeking peace. Does Japan now understand that ruling another people without their consent-such as the Ko- reans-is wrong; is Tokyo's democratic form of government a bow to Western sensi b ilities, or has it truly been embraced in the years since the American occupation; is Japan's own commitment to popular rule deep enough to come to the aid of another whose democracy is threatened? Accepting Nations As Equals. If Japan truly wants to ente r international affairs as an important and respected participant, then she must be prepared to make concessions to certain fundamental principles Of the international community. Among the most important is the need to recognize other nations as equals. Ac c epting this does not require agreement, friendship, or even cooperation with other powers. Denying it opens the way for invasion, plunder, and rape as Saddam Hussein reminded the civilized world last year. So long as Japan forswears her aggression in Chin a and Korea the first half of this century, her willing- ness to treat other nations with the same respect she expects of them must be in doubt. When Japan ac- knowledges the past as wrong, the world will know that she is ready to join the international co mmunity as a full and active member. The ghosts will sink into the distance.