Japan was not the aggressor in World War II, according to the country’s air force chief.
The essay was authored by General Toshio Tamogami, chief of staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force, and won the top award in an inaugural contest aimed at describing “true views of modern history”.
“Even now, there are many people who think that our country’s ‘aggression’ caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War,” said the English-language version of the essay.
“But we need to realise that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War.
“In Thailand, Burma, India, Singapore, and Indonesia, the Japan that fought the Greater East Asia War is held in high esteem.
“It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation.”
The Greater East Asia War was a term used by Japan to describe the conflict in the Asia-Pacific theatre, emphasising that it involv ed Asian nations seeking independence from the Western powers.
The essay, entitled “Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?”, was posted on the website of a Japanese hotel chain which organised the contest.
Blame isn't a one-way street, and I'm not going to blame Japanese imperialism on, say, innate Japanese aggression. Nor will I pretend that the US was the innocent victim of Pearl Harbor, or that it was an unprovoked attack. Nor am I ready to exploit past transgressions in order to fuel politically-expedient anti-foreign sentiment and xenophobia, as happens in South Korea and China. Nor will I presume moral authority over Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany all the while Americans were hanging blacks from trees and rounding up yellow people back home, and European countries were colonizing and exterminating their own groups of brown people.
However, this is yet another example of Asian countries unable to honestly examine their own past. (Refer to ROK Drop's comments on the Yasukuni Shrine for some context.) As we've seen here with tons of examples from South Korea, a refusal to account for the past makes it near impossible to move forward into the future. Ironic, but not surprising in the least, that this came in a contest with the theme "true views of modern history."