Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Japan must own up to militarist past

By Sun Xi (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-03 09:30

From this year, Sept 3 will officially mark Chinese people's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945). This should be taken as a message by Japan to reflect on its war atrocities and stop trying to destabilize East Asia.

The geographical proximity between China and Japan has always tied together the history of the two nations. As early as the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618 ) and Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), Japan sent several envoys to study in China. And maritime trade prospered between the two countries until 1635 when the Tokugawa Shogunate adopted a policy of isolationism in Japan.

However, despite once being very close, conflicts - and their legacies - have driven the two countries apart. The most daunting memories, especially for China, are still tied to the two Sino-Japanese Wars of the modern age.

The first was the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, in which Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) rulers were defeated and forced to pay a huge indemnity and relinquish Taiwan to Japan. The war also sowed the seeds of the future Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute.

The second was the Chinese people's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression that merged into World War II. Although China eventually emerged victorious with the help of the Allied powers, it paid a very heavy price: the loss of about 35 million lives and $383 billion in properties.

In Chinese people's mind, the two violent invasions of China by the relatively small island country of Japan are humiliating experiences which should never be forgotten. But on the other side, the Japanese government has never officially acknowledged or apologized for its history of brutal military aggression, especially against China.

China doesn't seek war compensation; it only wants Japan to officially acknowledge the atrocities it unleashed on neighboring countries, especially China, and apologize for its war crimes. But instead of doing that, Japanese politicians have been paying frequent visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A World War II criminals.

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