Change has eventually come to Japan.
The country decided to face its own past, and to reach for its neighbors in a joint effort to restore tragic facts as parts of a common history : confirming the hopes raised by Hatoyama's election, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada called for joint history text books between Japan, China, and Korea*, and revived the courageous position of former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who apologied for "damage and suffering" under colonial rule, called for an end to nationalism, and urged fellow Japanese citizens to face their own past.
Indeed, the time has come to set the record straight, and to silence for good ultra-nationalists from all sides, particularly after years of incessant provocations**.
From all sides ? Very much like Obama's speeches denouncing choices made by his predecessor sucked arguments out of warmongers overseas as well as in the US, Japan's call for justice upon itself will expose the impostors who needed such provocations to fuel their own nationalist agendas.
If China is more than eager to cope with say the Nanking Massacre, I'm not sure Beijing regime is willing to abandon its own outright revisionist programs : English scholars recently mocked at China's attempts of claiming (or rather "hanschlussing") Goguryeo civilization : as if England decided to claim Germany !
Korea itself hasn't yet fully come to terms with its own darkest moments but keeps, as it should, investigating and correcting past wrongdoings.
Yet, not everybody is happy with this, and diehard nationalists keep lobbying against the Truth and Reconciliation Commission***. Doing so, they are actually undermining the nation's efforts to emerge as a great nation on the international stage. Because contrary to what they pretend, more revelations won't bring shame but only pride, respect and praise from other nations.
As a French citizen, I've always felt at the same time an immense respect for Germany and the way post-WWII generations were educated about Nazi atrocities, and ashamed by how late France started admitting its own contributions to the genocide, or its wrongdoings as a colonial power.
As a country accepts its past weaknesses, it strengthens itself for the future, and sends the best message to its youth and to the world. A nation respecting lessons from history is a great and future proof nation.
As it welcomes an invitation for truth and reconciliation from Japan, Korea needs to support its own Truth and Reconciliation Commission more than ever.
And together, Korea and Japan must send the best message to the region and to the world, as role models for a new, peaceful Asia.
see also "A Common History" on Seoul Village
* see "Japanese foreign minister suggests joint history texts" (JoongAng Daily 20091009)
** see too many previous blogules on Japan and China.
*** on Seoul Village : "President Lee, please keep digging".
This post was published in JoongAng Ilbo today under the title "Japan may face its history"
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