I was surprised to see the above in the Classified section of our national newspaper today (the Classified app, actually. Yup, we should all use less paper when we can - save the trees, save God's green earth and save ourselves).
The print above is an acknowledgement of Japan's aggression in Asia during World War 2 and a written expression of current times anti-war sentiments by 12,791 Japanese citizens. The significance and relevancy is there because my own country was victimised too during World War 2, where wholesale massacres of civilians by Japanese Imperial troops took place.
I was surprised by the article above but it was a rather pleasant surprise seeing anti-war Japanese citizens acknowledging their past and standing up against their current military policy pushed and endorsed by their Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (安倍 晋三), that now allows for the deployment of Japanese troops overseas to engage in warfare. Before this and after her formal surrender at the end of the Second World War, Japan could only have her own self-contained military defense force meant strictly and solely for self-defense within her own turf. So that is no longer the case now that Japan is freed from the shackles that tied up and limited her military prowess.
Watch out, world, Samurai sword is on the loose again. Unapologetically. If said sword tags itself with #Bushido, then according to what history has taught the world, the situation ought to gain some notches up the horror scale. Apparently, the horror seems lost on Shinzo Abe, along with the heartaches. I think one would certainly be amused to see Abe trying to crash a kamikaze plane himself right smack into the faces of his enemies instead of him just cheering others on to do it in his place. A perceptive man once said that wars are declared by older men while the young do all the fighting and dying. Ouch.
Protesting Japanese citizens protest because they perceive the lifting of Japan's military restrictions as leading Japan towards a possible déjà vu revival of World War 2-esque Japanese Imperialism and militarism as well as a possible path to conflicts of aggression in Asia (mainly with China as the biggest target, while not discounting the possibility of other Asian nations getting dragged into the ring as well) with the current hotly debated ownership of the Senkaku 钓鱼台 islands and the natural resources there as a springboard - which the current gist and crux of it all really hinges on in essence. History has always seen Man fighting over resources.
The 钓鱼台 islands situation
Stripping away dubious political mumbo jumbo and the so-called historical claims by Japan, if you look at the world map where the 钓鱼台 (or 钓鱼岛) islands are located, you can see that they are plain obvious being geographically closest to Taiwan that it probably makes you wonder just how and why Japan is making the claim that they possess rightful ownership over the islands and whether if that is really justifiable. Japan's colonization of Taiwan has ended before you were even born, Abe.
Oh, and the United States is actually standing on the side of Japan regarding these contested islands, as evident in their joint military exercises in the region. I don't think the U.S. of A has forgotten Pearl Harbour so quickly but rather, somebody else has now become the current arch-rival for both Uncle Sam and Uncle Bushido. I can imagine the Bushido man getting emboldened with the Stars and Stripes on his side. We'll consider this in more detail later but for now, let's get back to the 钓鱼台 islands issue:
If you lean towards the notion that Taiwan belongs rightfully to China, then you lean towards the notion that the 钓鱼台 islands belong to China, assuming that you find Japan's claim of ownership dubious, that is. If, on the flip side of the coin, you think that Taiwan as part of mainland China is a debatable subject, then chances are, you are inclined to think that the islands belong rightfully to Taiwan - again, if you are finding that Japan's claim of rightful ownership to be dubious.
Whichever of the 2 considerations above and either way, the million moolah question is: Is it really valid and justifiable for Japan to claim rightful ownership over the islands when they are geographically closest to Taiwan / China?
One would probably think that the situation is a ludicrous one in consideration of the fat cats in Japan who are asserting so-called rightful ownership over the islands as sanctioned by their claimed version of history, since by just looking at the world map of the contested area, your eyes are probably telling you that that is akin and parallel to claiming the front yard of someone else as belonging to you when your own house is in another neighbourhood a greater distance away.
As for the United States being bedfellows with Japan on this, if you read between the lines of related current events and the news, it's because of the thorn in Uncle Sam's hide - China. You know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend and I egg my friend on in harassing my enemy and all that jazz. What better way to intimidate my enemy than to use my enemy's enemy who has once pillaged the land and slaughtered the people of my enemy to stir the pot - especially when said enemy has not forgiven so-called friend over incidents like the Nanking massacre (WARNING: graphic content). Oops, it looks like you've probably grown some horns on your head there, Uncle Sam.
So one ought to have discerned that Uncle Sam doesn't like fortune cookies if one has been keeping oneself abreast with related current world happenings, especially about the things disguised beneath the carpet of look-good politics in the face of the rapid expansion of China and her military muscle at breakneck speed, not to mention the effective ranges of her latest missiles. Shudder. Oh, and there are $keleton$ in the not-so-dusty-yet closet too, Sam.
In case you were wondering why the United States aided China against Japan during the Second World War but have changed her stance since (after the Chinese civil war), well, it was the non-Communist Kuomingtang (國民黨) government that was the government of China during then that the United States aided before the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war when the Chinese Communist Party took over China. We will see hell freeze over before the United States become lovey-dovey buddies with the Commies.
Nature's resources in the ring of the 钓鱼台 islands is the source and focal point of the current tension going on in that region of Asia that dragged in the American military muscle on a grander scale and the buildup of said muscle is on everyone's side in the region (inclusive of the Philippines, India and Vietnam, besides Japan) except for, of course, China. The goal here is to contain and confine China to prevent her continued expansion in the region.
The polar bear from the North sashays into the fray
Apparently, China stands alone in all these.. Oh wait. Not completely alone if you consider the recent Russian intimidations towards Japan. Russia may not have seemingly gotten itself directly involved with the 钓鱼岛 islands but when you are buddies with China and you are doing the hanky panky at Japan's doorstep, then from China's point of view, that's as good as 'my enemy's enemy (which makes it my friend) harassing my enemy at his doorstep while I tussle it out at the front'. And it's not like China and Russia are running things in subtlety.
Sigh. What a mess.
12,791 consciences and counting
The underlying spite and anger towards Japan in Asia, like how Kimchi doesn't see eye-to-eye with Sushi and vice-versa, for example, has its main roots still firmly planted in World War 2. Japan's co-prosperity sphere plan in Asia during then turned out to really mean prosperity solely for Japan herself and brutal sufferings for her neighbours and the rest of Asia.
Germany has been man enough to face up to their past, apologised without reservations, shown remorse and acted accordingly. But Japan? I don't think it's fair to put the full blame squarely on the shoulders of the current generation for the atrocious mistakes committed by the previous generation - if the current generation does not turn a blind eye of denial on the past mistakes made. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for a part of Japan's society, she still has her share of denials and white-washings of historical events.
But there is a glimmer of hope for Asia's wound yet to be fully healed. We now know that there are at least 12,791 consciences in Japan's society brave enough and responsible enough to face up to their own history. However, the glimmer of hope seems to come in bigger numerical numbers within Japanese society that is actively crusading to give peace a chance, though I'm hoping there are no political rivals of Abe among them who are hitching a ride just for the opportunity to take advantage of the situation solely for political motives and gains.
Above all, I hope any subsequent and further protests in Japan will remain peaceful and not degenerate into violence. I hope no one gets hurt. I won't know what to make of it if the crusade for peace sees blood flowing at the same time.
In the past, seeing large scale active protests by Japanese citizens against their goverment authorities and policies during the period before and within the World War 2 years was something unthinkable to Japanese society then. Times have certainly changed but certain hard lessons that endure through the passage of time and etched permanently on the pages of history will always remain true, relevant and constant.
You know what they say, he who forgets history will be doomed to repeat it. Those who remember and who can see past all the white-washings, reality distortion fields and denials are actually the ones that are doing the forgetful among them and the rest of the world a really big favour.
Make Love, Fuck War.