Rejecting war criminals praiseworthy

Rejecting war criminals praiseworthy

Date: 12/14/96
Page: 4

A FEW days ago, the US Justice Department denied 16 Japanese World War II veterans entry into the country. Some of them had been soldiers in the notorious 731 Bacteriological Warfare Unit, while others participated in the taking of "Comfort Women" from China, Korea and other Asian countries for the Japanese forces.

The United States' barring of these war criminals is praiseworthy, if belated, a recent Liberation Daily article said.

The action of the US Government is in the interests of both the United States and the Asia-Pacific region, the article said.

First, it is conducive to improving the image of the US in the world community. The war ended 51 years ago, but Japanese militarism remains a ghost haunting Japan and the whole Asia-Pacific region. Lenient treatment of Japanese war criminals by the US Government was partly responsible for this.

To contain other countries in the Asia-Pacific region during the Cold War, the US wanted to see a strong Japan. Many released war criminals have gained powerful positions in Japan with the support of the US. And the US' shielding of Japanese militarism allowed Japan's ultra-rightists to rebuild. This is illustrated by the frequent visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese Government leaders.

Second, the recent US action can help dispel the spectre of Japanese militarism and fight the growth of Japan's far-right. As Japan's economic power grows, the country is beginning to make ambitious attempts to become a political and even a military power.

Japanese militarists and right-wing political factions have seized the chance to stage various activities to beautify their militarist history. They deny the history of such events as the Nanjing Massacre and refuse to apologize for the suffering brought to Asian peoples by Japanese aggression. Recently, Japanese prime minister even paid homage to Japan's war dead at the Yasukuni Shrine, triggering strong protests from many nations. Even worse, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party recently demanded that

its members and visiting foreign leaders visit the shrine.

These developments indicate that Japanese militarism and right-wing forces are becoming rampant and immune to domestic or international influence. The US refusal of entry to the Japanese ex-war criminals dealt a blow to Japan and should urge it to reflect seriously upon its past.

Third, this decision will help promote peace and co-operation in the Asia-Pacific region. In the 50 years since the war ended, Japan has been unable to win the trust of other Asian countries due to its constant refusal to admit its war crimes in World War II. Asian countries have been confused by the US -- itself once a victim of Japanese militarism -- usually turning a blind eye to Japan's wrongdoings.

By turning down the visa applications of the Japanese war veterans, the US Government has sent a message to the Asian people that Americans have not forgotten Japan's terrible history. The US should now assure the rest of the world that it does not intend to help Japan become a new military power dominating Asia.