This article is the result of me amalgamating the few posts I posted to a thread on Facebook. I am re-producing it here mostly because I put in a lot of effort writing those posts and I want to keep them in some form for future use — if there is any, that is. Facebook posts are generally very hard to find unless they were posted fairly recently. (You could “save link,” but this feature is quite limited in its functionality; you cannot really organize saved links.)
On August 9th this year, 72 years since the US A-bombed Nagasaki, the original poster brought up on his Facebook timeline the project that he saw on TV news of “Japanese artists collaborating with french (sic) artist (representing the west (sic)) to show that we can live together in peace” and then strongly condemned Japan of trying to re-write history. I was completely taken aback by this. I was not aware of this project, but one thing I was certain about was that at least those artists had no such intention.
It was also an educational moment for me because it made me realize how well-meaning deeds could be interpreted in such a negative light.
I am Japanese. Biologically I am half Chinese (from my father’s side) and half Japanese (from my mother’s side). But I was born in Japan and grew up here like any Japanese man would do with hardly any Chinese influence (a long and complicated story), so I consider myself at least 95% Japanese mentality wise. Oh, I’ve just turned 52 if it matters at all.
You mentioned Japanese artists working with French artists. I have not heard about it and I watch a lot of TV news and listen to a lot of radio news here in Japan. I cannot comment on that project because I know nothing about it.
What I’ve heard a lot about was the anniversary ceremony held in Nagasaki yesterday (August 9th) where people begged for a world of no nuclear weapons. These people are either those who directly experienced the atrocities of the atomic bomb 72 years ago, or their descendants. What I’d like you to note is that there are no (or very very few, if any) former Japanese soldiers among them. The A-bomb survivors are most likely to have been kids when it happened. If they were older, they probably would have passed away already.
You say Japanese soldiers did horrific things during the war. That may be true, but A-bomb survivors did not do it. They probably did not know anything about it until the war ended. They did, however, personally experience firsthand the horrific things that immediately followed the bombing of Nagasaki. They suffered a lot so they have a genuine quest for peace.
Similar things can be said about those who were born long after the end of the war, which includes myself (I was born 20 years later). We are not taught very much about what our ancestors did during the war (more on this later), but we are taught a lot about A-bombs. Visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Hiroshima_Peace_Memorial_Museum) leaves you a lot of deep and lasting impressions about how atrocious a war can be. In addition, my parents’ generation were kids during the war, so we’ve heard from them about how tough life was for them then. So most of us also sincerely hope that the world will remain at peace.
By explaining the above, I wanted you to understand why most of the modern-day Japanese people do have a genuine desire for world peace. This is the biggest point I wanted to make in this post. And given what little we truly know about the war, there is no contradiction in our desire above.
Now I know you think there is contradiction: “how dare you act holy now when you acted like a devil in the past?” I understand. I am willing to concede that we have not made due effort to educate our youths about the true nature of the war (the “devil” part). I admit I personally have not made much effort to educate myself on the issue either. I agree this issue needs to be addressed, but I would just like you to understand that present-day Japanese people are sincerely trying to do what we think is right for the world.
I am aware that does not make it okay. If ancestors did something wrong, then yes, we need to know about it and learn from it. I just wanted to explain to you why what appears to you very contradictory/conflicting is happening.
You’re very welcome. I just wanted people to know things are not necessarily how they are reported and/or perceived overseas.
One thing I should have emphasized in my original post is that with the case being the way I described, those everyday Japanese people who are involved in various projects to promote world peace have absolutely zero intention of “rewriting history,” despite Maul’s criticism. If you grabbed one of those people and asked, “Why are you trying to rewrite history?” he would be really puzzled and say, “Where did that question come from?” He would have a hard time connecting the dots because “rewriting history” has probably never occurred to him.
Now, I am not saying that there has not been a revisionist attempt at the very high-level of the Japanese government about the “dark history” of Japan during the WWII. I personally do not have any concrete evidence to either prove or deny such a claim, but I think it’d be fair to assume there has been some such attempt, because I think it’s in our very nature to try to look good (needless to say, it does not make it okay). I just think it’s rather unfair to accuse those well-meaning everyday Japanese people who wish for nothing but world peace of trying to rewrite history, simply because that’s not what they’re trying to do.