In Japan as in the United States, the 50th anniversary of World War II in Asia has provoked highly emotional political and ideological debates. For the American public, this surfaced most conspicuously in a bitter controversy over how the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum should commemorate the use of atomic bombs and end of the Pacific War. The Japanese counterpart to this controversy focused on the government's appropriate political response to a horrendous conflict for which, in the eyes of the rest of the world, Imperial Japan bore immense responsibility.

    Contrary to much media commentary in the United States, the issue of Japanese "war responsibility" has been quite widely debated within Japan itself for many years. These debates intensified following the death of Emperor Hirohito in 1989, and came to a head in June of this year with the passage by the lower house of the Diet (Japan's bicameral parliament) of a resolution expressing "deep remorse" for Japan's wartime actions. International and domestic criticism of this conspicuously qualified resolution was partially meliorated by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's statement of August 15, in which he expressed his "heartfelt apology" for the damage and suffering caused by Imperial Japan. The documents that follow here convey a sense of the gamut of positions taken on this divisive and volatile issue.

    Document 1[1] is the Diet's own "unofficial" translation of the resolution passed in the House of Representatives, amidst great discord, on June 9. This transparently compromised statement reflects the politically polyglot nature of the coalition government presiding over Japan. Originally introduced as a relatively strong apology for Japan's wartime transgressions by the Social Democratic Party to which Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama belongs, the resolution was drastically watered down by the prime minister's conservative coalition partners, most notably the Liberal Democratic Party that governed Japan from 1955 to 1993.

    The final vote on the resolution in the lower house amply suggests the political tumult that has accompanied this issue. Of 502 representatives (nine seats in the House are presently vacant), only 251 actually participated in the vote, of whom 230 supported the resolution. Opposition votes included fourteen members of the Japan Communist Party, who desired a much stronger statement of Japan's war responsibility. Some 241 members of the House abstained from voting, including 70 representatives who were affiliated with one of the three parties in the shaky ruling coalition cabinet that sponsored the resolution. Over 50 of these dissenting coalition members belonged to the conservative Liberal Democratic Party; they felt that the resolution still went too far. On the other hand, fourteen Socialists abstained on the grounds that it did not go far enough. The greatest number of abstaining representatives (141) belonged to the Shinshinto (New Frontier Party), at least some of whose members desired a stronger statement. A few members of the House were not present for reasons having nothing to do with the resolution per se.

    The resolution as passed contains several conspicuous features. Japanese colonialism and aggression is placed in the larger context of "modern" colonialism and aggression by other powers (implicitly "the West"). The word "apology" (shazai or owabi) is conspicuously absent from the final statement. And the "deep remorse" (fukai hansei) expressed for the suffering Imperial Japan caused other peoples is explicitly identified as referring primarily to Japan's Asian neighbors.

    Document 2[2] is a concise expression of conservative opposition to any unqualified acknowledgment of and apology for Japanese war behavior. This was circulated nationwide as a petition beginning around February 1995, and its sponsors - an ad hoc "Citizen’s Movement Committee on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of the War" - claimed to ultimately have collected some five million supporting signatures.

    The petition conveys two sentiments that loom large in all conservative arguments: (1) resistance to any statement suggesting Japan has been a uniquely aggressive nation in the modern world (and, with this, implicit resentment at the perceived double standards of nations and peoples who criticize Japan without acknowledging their own imperialist histories and occasionally atrocious behaviors); and (2) deep patriotic concern that unqualified condemnation of Japan's role in the China and Pacific wars blasphemes the memory of approximately 2 million Japanese "heroes" (eirei) who bravely and loyally gave their lives for their country.

    Apart from visceral patriotism, this conservative anxiety also rests on eminently practical concerns. In speaking of the "one- sided" resolution as a source of trouble for the future, the petition obliquely evokes the spectre of both declining nationalism and foreign lawsuits. Unqualified self-criticism of Japan's objectives and behavior in the war, it is feared, will undermine the patriotism of future generations. At the same time, an official acknowledgment of responsibility for causing suffering to the nationals of other countries could well become the basis for lawsuits by any number of surviving victims of Imperial Japan's war machine (women forced into sexual slavery, individuals such as Koreans who were conscripted for forced labor, victims of military atrocities, abused Allied POWs, etc.). Demands for individual compensation or reparations for such foreigners already have emerged both from abroad and (as seen in Document 6[6]) from within Japan itself.

    Document 3[3], an editorial from the Sankei newspaper on June 10, condemning the Diet resolution, conveys the conservative position in greater detail. Much like American conservatives who attacked those who criticized the use the atomic bombs as being doctrinaire "anti-American" leftists, the Sankei tars the Socialists and other Japanese who condemn Japan's war behavior without qualification, and who generally trace Japanese aggression back to the first Sino-Japanese war in the mid- 1890s, for embracing an "anti-national" or "anti-Japanese" (hankokumin) ideology.

    More striking - and probably more surprising to most non- Japanese - the Sankei editorial also reflects a basic line of attack that conservatives in general directed against the Diet resolution: the argument that it contravened the very essence of parliamentary democracy to issue a dogmatic statement purporting to reflect the viewpoint of the people as a whole. This gives an interesting twist to the domestic debate, in that those who espouse the most "conservative" position concerning Japan's war responsibility have found it expedient to do so by presenting themselves as champions of a truly pluralistic "democracy."

    Document 4[4], a critique of the Diet resolution from the June 8 issue of Akahata, the newspaper of the Japan Communist Party, provides a fair sample of the left-wing position concerning Japan's war responsibility. This is an argument elaborated in great detail, and with many nuances, in a large body of Japanese historical writing on World War II in Asia, where Marxist and neo-Marxist perspectives have been conspicuous ever since Japan's defeat in 1945. Ironically, the critique of Japanese imperialism and aggression by Japanese Marxists probably most closely approximates the unqualified condemnation of Japanese aggression espoused by non-Japanese anti-Marxists.

    Although not addressed to the Diet resolution per se, Document 5[5] provides an excellent example of the manner in which progressive Japanese scholars attempted to use the fiftieth anniversary of the war to, first, acknowledge Japan's own deep war responsibility in specific terms; and then, second, speak to the larger issues of war and peace in general. This appeal, originally drafted by over thirty academics in March 1995, was one of the few attempts worldwide to transcend national fixations and mobilize international opinion on these matters. Signatures were solicited from scholars throughout both Asia and the West.

    Document 6[6], dated June 30 and signed by 137 generally well-known academics and public figures, provides a sample of liberal and left-wing citizen's movements which not only call for frank acknowledgment of Japan's specific war crimes, but also demand compensation or "reparations" for the individual victims of these depredations. Like most such Japanese pronouncements, whether from the left or right of the political spectrum, the focus is on Japan's Asian victims. In recent years, particularly after the issue of Asian women forced to serve as sexual "comfort women" (ianfu) for the Imperial forces became widely publicized in Japan, popular support for such compensation has been substantial. A poll conducted earlier this year, for example, found the remarkably high number of 80 percent of respondents in favor of such material acknowledgment of Japan's war responsibility (see, for example, the New York Times of March 6, 1995).

    Document 7[7], the prime minister's statement on the fiftieth anniversary of Japan's capitulation, was widely heralded abroad as the country's "first" clear and explicit apology for Imperial Japan's colonial rule and aggressive acts. The key phrase is the expression of feelings of "profound remorse" (tsusetsu na hansei) and "heartfelt apology" (kokoro kara no owabi), most particularly the latter phrase. There is no doubt that this is a document of historical importance, and will be widely cited in the future. It is not, however, an unprecedented statement. Two years previously, on August 23, 1993, the then prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa made a similar albeit terser statement before the Diet expressing "deep remorse and apology" (fukai hansei to owabi) for these same acts.

    Whatever one may make of these individual statements in and of themselves, viewed together they convey an impression of serious domestic engagement with fundamental issues concerning Japan's past, present and future. This is not the impression we usually get from the U.S. media, with its rather formulaic and monolithic fixation on "the Japanese" and their "historical amnesia." As these documents also suggest, this highly emotional debate obviously transcends the 50th anniversary year. It is predictable that it will continue for many years to come - and predictable also that there never will be unanimity within Japan on the question of war responsibility.

    John W. Dower is professor of history and Henry Luce professor of international cooperation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

      1. Document 1

        Resolution to Renew the Determination for Peace on the Basis of Lessons Learned from History

        June 9, 1995

        (Unofficial translation by the Secretariat of the Japan House of Representatives)

        The House of Representatives resolves as follows:

        On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, this House offers its sincere condolences to those who fell in action of wars and similar actions all over the world.

        Solemnly reflecting upon many instances of colonial rule and acts of aggression in the modern history of the world, and recognizing that Japan carried out those acts in the past, inflicting pain and suffering upon the peoples of other countries, especially in Asia, the Members of this House express a sense of deep remorse.

        We must transcend differences over historical views of the past war and learn humbly the lessons of history so as to build a peaceful international society.

        This House expresses its resolve, under the banner of eternal peace enshrined in the Constitution of Japan, to join hands with other nations of the world and to pave the way to a future that allows all human beings to live together.return to text

      2. Document 2

        A Petition to Oppose the "Diet Resolution of Remorse and Apology" that One-Sidedly Condemns Our Country's War.

        (Translated by Tomomi Yamaguchi)

        On the occasion of the 50th anniversary (Heisei 7 [1995]) of the end of the War, there are plans for a Diet resolution that one-sidedly condemns our country for the war and expresses our "remorse" and "apology" to the relevant nations.

        Such a resolution means that, as an expression of our nation's will, we declare domestically and internationally that in the history of the world our country alone bears war responsibility and is a criminal nation. This inevitably harms the honor of our nation and race (minzoku), desecrates our heroes who died for the nation at its time of crisis, and will become a grave source of trouble for the future of our country and people. We oppose this Diet Resolution and offer the following petition. Your consideration is appreciated.


        We strongly demand that the Diet uphold its conscience as the institution possessing the highest authority in the nation, and never adopt a resolution of "remorse" and "apology" that one-sidedly condemns our country's war, as has been planned for the fiftieth anniversary of the war's end.

        To: The Speaker of the House of Representatives The Chairman of the House of Councilors

        Citizen's Movement Committee on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of the War.return to text

      3. Document 3:

        Editorial from Sankei Shimbun, June 7, 1995

        A compromised proposal that lacks wisdom

        We cannot judge history based on the resolution in the House of Representatives

        (Translated by Tomomi Yamaguchi)

        The three ruling parties compromised over the resolution by the House on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war. Properly, this evaluation of the past war should be judged objectively by the historians of the future. However, as we typically see in any decision- making processes in the House, it was decided on a basis of compromise that takes the average of the two opposing positions. We have to claim that the making of the resolution is a very insincere and political deal, lacking a humble attitude toward history.

        One's historical view is an issue of "thought" that belongs to an individual's very inner domain. Thus, we have consistently been insisting that the House, which is the institution possessing the highest power in the nation, should not offer standardized historical evaluations or ethical value judgments on past history. We insist on this because the citizens of Japan do not assign to the House such an act that goes beyond its supposed function as a legislature.

        Even if supposedly we have to put some historical considerations into the resolution, it is careless of the House to include such words as "acts of aggression" [shinryakuteki koï] or "colonial rule" [shokuminchi shihai], without considering the multifaceted nature of the war (the belligerents, the area, the details about how the war was initiated, the content of the colonial rule), and the long history before the war.

        Is it permissible for the House to impose a very facile "remorse" [hansei] upon future generations of Japanese citizens, even though the resolution does not take the data from existing empirical research into account, and there are still many issues that we have to wait for historians to resolve?

        The discussion in the House was centered on the expressions such as "aggression" and "colonies." As a result of negotiation and compromise by the Liberal Democrats and the Socialists, these words came to have equivocal and thus unclear meanings in the resolution. However, it could cause trouble for the future that the fair historical evaluation by the Liberal Democratic Party — which explains that it was inevitable for Japan to make a mistake in order to protect the security of the country given the situation of Asia at the time, which was being threatened by the Great Powers of the world — was forced to be changed by the Socialist party.

        At the same time, certainly we were able to avoid the arguments that make Japan out to be an absolute evil, or that reject the value of wars for self- protection, because the naming of the resolution was changed to "Resolution to Renew the Determination for Peace on the Basis of Lessons Learned from History," and words like "apology" or "renunciation of war" were eliminated from the text.

        However, any resolutions by the House, composed of the representatives of the people, are supposed to mean "the consensus of the people." Can we really say that the content of the agreement by the three parties is "the consensus of the people?" In fact, public opinion is split. We also cannot ignore the importance of movements opposed to the resolution that blames Japan as an evil country, as we can see in the campaign that has obtained signatures of five million people.

        Moreover, the resolution lacks the basic condition that should be fulfilled in order to be established as a resolution by the House. The principle of resolution is unanimous agreement, but in fact, individual Diet Members have diverse opinions on the war. If diverse opinions of individual Diet Members are forced to be absorbed into an party-level agreement in the resolution-making process, the "conscience" of the Congress people who are not willing to compromise is completely ignored. This process does not follow the principle of parliamentary democracy.

        If it is compelling that there be a resolution of the Diet, it should be nothing other than a resolution which expresses sorrow to those Asians who died during the war, and our resolve to contribute to the international community as a nation of peace by a high level of ideological expression without stepping imprudently into interpretations of history.

        The essence of the compromise by the ruling parties is nothing but the maintenance of the coalition government. Although the so- called agreement by the three parties does not contain words such as "aggression" and "colonies," the Liberal Democratic Party ended up accepting the masochistic historical view of the Socialist Party that is obviously thinking only of its own advantage, because the LDP is so attached to being a ruling party.

        The historical view of the Socialist Party is a very extreme "anti-Japan historical view" that considers "all the wars since the Sino-Japanese War [of 1894-5] as wars of aggression," and the post-war financial compensation and Overseas Developmental Aid (ODA) as only having profited Japanese corporations. Considering the essential nature of this party, this view is nothing but an "anti-national" ideology.

        Through this compromise, the Liberal Democratic Party actually "shared" the Socialist's viewpoint. The conservatives are supposed to respect a balanced view of history, pass down what they should from generation to generation, and protect good traditional culture. However, the LDP's compromise means that they abandoned their responsibilities as conservatives and, emphatically, it is on this issue that their true remorse should be expressed.

        Furthermore, we think that the people may distrust politics more because politicians are mainly concerned with preserving the coalition government and benefiting their own parties.

        The focus from now on will move to the arrangement with the New Frontier Party regarding the content of the resolution. However, there are Diet Members within the New Frontier Party who oppose the very fact that the House is conducting an evaluation of history. Their claim is that we should avoid having the resolution by the House, and that instead we should limit it to the "party declarations" proposed voluntarily by each political party.

        Considering the current situation, we agree that this is the most rational approach. We demand that politics regain the proper wisdom that it has lost.return to text

      4. Document 4:

        Editorial from Akahata, the newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party, June 8, 1995

        Ruling Parties' "No-War Resolution" Draft Acquits War of Aggression

        On the draft Diet resolution marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, which was agreed on June 6 by the three ruling coalition parties, the Japanese commercial press has generally appreciated it, saying it includes such words as "aggression," "colonial rule" and "regret." But Akahata on June 8 rejects such an evaluation, saying that the ruling coalition's draft resolution is far from reflecting the Japanese militarist war of aggression. In fact, the paper said, it acquits the war of aggression by arguing that both the fascist and militarist states and the anti-fascist forces were to blame for World War II.

        The draft resolution of the ruling parties describes the position as though Japan's "colonial rule" and "acts of aggression" were part of the general trend in "modern world history." The draft makes neither a concrete reference to nor a clear apology for Japan's colonial rule of Korea and Taiwan and the war of aggression against China and the South East Asian countries, though the draft expresses "deep regret" for "such acts" that "we carried out." On this basis it is natural that the Asian countries are criticizing the draft.

        All the drafts of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party of Japan and Sakigake (Harbinger) had in common the attempt to rationalize the war of aggression as a "confrontation between the powers." The word "powers" is not used in the agreed draft. But asked what the phrase "looking back at the various instances of colonial rule and acts of aggression" means, SDPJ Secretary General Wataru Kubo admitted on June 6 that "it is a historical fact that there were numerous instances of colonial rule and acts of aggression by the states which are described as powers."

        This clearly shows that the draft resolution of the ruling parties was written to rationalize Japan's past war of aggression, just giving it as another example of "colonial rule and acts of aggression" by the powers. But World War II was a war in which Japan, Germany and Italy as the fascist and militarist states waged war of aggression in Asia and Europe, and against this, many nations in the world formed an alliance against their aggression and fascism. It was different in character from wars "in modern world history" like World War I, in which the imperialist powers fought each other for colonies and spheres of interest.

        The draft by the ruling parties distorts these historical facts by describing the position as though both the aggressor states and the nations which fought them were to blame. It is necessary to make such an argument to make Japan's responsibility for the war of aggression clear.

        In addition, in the meeting of the ruling parties, the Liberal Democratic Party eulogized about the Asia-Pacific War launched by Japan, saying that it was for the "safety of our country." It is just the same argument of "self-existence and self-defense" used by the Tenno [Emperor] government and the military at the time which advocated that "now the Empire, for self-existence and self-defense, must rise determinedly to surmount all obstacles" (Pacific War Imperial Proclamation).

        The ruling coalition's position that both sides are to blame can lead to the conclusion that also the war of aggression which Japan waged was necessary for "self-existence and self-defense" against the "colonial rule and acts of aggression" by the powers.

        The draft Diet resolution of the three ruling coalition parties only says that some nations in the world carried out "colonial rule and acts of aggression." Furthermore, the passage, it must "go beyond our different historical perceptions of the war," indicates that they think there can be various ways of thinking about Japan's war. This denies the historical fact that Japan initiated and waged the war of aggression for the purpose of expanding its territory and extending its sphere of influence. At the same time, it shows that the three ruling parties do not even recognize that Japan played the role as one of the key initiators of World War II.

        Japan's war of aggression cannot be described as "colonial rule and acts of aggression," nor can it be rationalized as part of the general trend at the time. The war in Asia and the Pacific began with Japan's aggression in the North-Eastern Region of China (the Manchurian Incident) in 1931, the purpose of which was to completely resolve the situation in "Manchuria" and Mongolia to make them Japanese territory, as Seishiro Itagaki, the Japanese Kwantung army chief of staff, said that Japan could greatly increase its power when it definitely included China as part of its territory, and could grasp the key for peace in the Orient and get ready for the future battle for world conquest. This clearly shows that at the time Japan had the intention to participate in the world war.

        In the war started in 1941 against the United States, Britain and the Netherlands, Japan initiated an "Outline Administration in the Southern Occupied Lands" and while expanding the war it said that the purpose of the occupation was to get immediately important resources for national security to ensure self-sufficiency for the operational troops.

        Japan waged the war while at the same time it cruelly exploited and dominated by military force the people in Asia and the Pacific nations.

        The ruling coalition parties' draft resolution is criticized (by the British Broadcasting Corporation) because it weakens the recognition of Japan's criminal actions by saying that other powers did the same thing as Japan. To attempt to rationalize Japan's war of aggression which has historically been defined as a war of aggression will only debase history and show contempt for the people of Asia.

        The war Japan started was undeniably a war of aggression from both the historical and international point of view. This is why the beginning of post-war international politics was based on deep reflection about the war of aggression and the acceptance of Japan's guilt.

        The Potsdam Declaration which Japan accepted says in its Article 6, "There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest." Also, the decision of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East which Japan accepted in the San Francisco "Peace" Treaty pointed out that the attack Japan started on December 7, 1941 against Britain, the United States of America and the Netherlands was a war of aggression.

        The United Nations Charter at the same time says in Article 53 that the Security Council "provided regional arrangements directed against renewal of aggressive policy on the part of any such (enemy) state."

        Japan's post-war politics took a step forward when the Japanese people reflected on the war and "resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of our government." (Preamble, Japan's Constitution)

        The draft resolution of the ruling parties denies the starting point of post-war international politics because it acquits those responsible for Japan's war of aggression by saying that Japan's action was just part of the general trend in "modern world history."return to text

      5. Document 5:

        Japan Committee to Appeal for World Peace 1995 (Issued March, 1995)

        Proposal for an International Appeal for Global Peace on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of World War II

        Fifty years are about to pass since the conclusion of World War II, which brought unimaginable suffering to peoples throughout the world. The passage of months and years that now amount to half a century compels us to mourn all of the war's victims, irrespective of which side they were on during the war, and to renew our resolution never to repeat the tragedy of war.

        It is regrettable, however, that among the various events being planned throughout the world in commemoration of the 50th-year anniversary, there are some that threaten to exacerbate mutual mistrust by emphasizing the differing position at the time of the war. Forty years ago, in 1955, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein warned that the elimination of war will remain difficult so long as our sense of common humanity remains ambiguous and abstract.

        As individuals engaged in scholarly and cultural activities in Japan, we believe it necessary to first clearly promote self- reflection on Japan's war responsibility in the Asia-Pacific War. Based on this, we then wish to present an international appeal that clarifies common ground for working toward global peace. By obtaining the support of many people throughout the world, it is our desire to turn this 50th-year anniversary into an opportunity to strengthen international public opinion in support of world peace.

        As a prelude to our proposal for international appeal, we offer the following reflections concerning Japan's war responsibility:

        First, it is obvious that the Asia-Pacific War began with the invasion of China, starting with the "Manchurian Incident" of September 1931, and subsequent military invasion of Southeast Asian countries that were European and U.S. colonies. We recognize that apology and compensation for damages to the Asian peoples whom we victimized are necessary.

        Second, at that time in Japan there was a tendency to regard the European and American colonial powers as "have" (as opposed to "have- not") countries, and to demand a redistribution of colonial possessions. Such an attitude neglected the demands for national self-determination that had been on the rise since World War I, however, and is anachronistic in the post-World-War-II world. Keeping in mind the fact that 1995 is also the 100th year since the conclusion of the first Sino-Japanese War, we believe self- reflection is necessary concerning Japan's own colonial rule, which started in Formosa (Taiwan) in 1895 and was extended to Korea in 1910.

        Third, against a background of confrontation concerning Japan's aggression against China and Indochina, Japan commenced war against the Allied Powers in December 1941 with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (while a notice to terminate Japan-U.S. negotiations was delayed in the Japanese embassy), coupled with a military assault on the Malay Peninsula. We give serious consideration to the fact that these actions have caused prolonged U.S. distrust of Japan. If Japan is to take a position of seeking peaceful solutions to disputes in today's world, we believe that it is more than ever necessary to clearly self-reflect upon our responsibility for starting the war.

        Fourth, heart-felt apology and self-reflection are necessary concerning the mass slaughter of civilians symbolized by the "Nanjing Massacre," as well as the atrocious treatment of Allied prisoners of war and civilian captives such as took place in the "Bataan Death March." The Asia-Pacific War, which caused enormous suffering in neighboring countries, also was accompanied by indescribable sacrifices on the part of the Japanese people, as symbolized by Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a result, a common consciousness of "no more war" became widespread in post-defeat Japan, and the country chose the path of concentrating on economic recovery while avoiding foreign disputes as much as possible.

        As a result, until quite recently Japanese have tended to emphasize their own victimization while neglecting their role as victimizers who brought enormous suffering to foreigners and foreign countries. That is, it cannot be denied that peace consciousness in post-war Japan has had the limitation of being self-centered. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that post-war government compensation policies for individual war victims applied only to Japanese.

        In the 1990s, however, problems such as the "military comfort women" became widely known and Japanese public opinion in support of apologizing to foreign war victims and providing compensation to them has risen conspicuously. Also, in recent years local public peace-memorial centers such as those in Hiroshima and Okinawa have begun to address not only Japanese suffering but also the suffering of non-Japanese. In this 50th year since Japan's defeat, we recognize that it is necessary to strengthen this trend whereby peace consciousness transcends the boundaries of "one-country" preoccupation.

        Thus, on this historically important juncture of the fiftieth anniversary of Japan's defeat, we urge the Japanese government and Diet to carry out the following five-part agenda:

        By August 15, 1995, officially do the following: clearly articulate the government's self-reflection on Japan's responsibility for past colonial rule as well as the Asia-Pacific War, which caused enormous suffering both outside and within the country; express renewed resolution to uphold Article Nine of the Constitution and never invade the territory of other countries; resolve to act as a thoroughly peaceful nation by taking the initiative to work for peaceful dispute resolution and armaments reduction in the future.

        Make efforts to make the miserable realities of the war known to the world by, first, releasing to the public all official documents and pertinent materials possessed by the Japanese side, and second, assisting in the identification and maintenance of materials pertaining to war damages in other countries, especially in Asia.

        Set up appropriate mechanisms within the government and Diet to quickly investigate war damages to foreigners; apologize to such confirmed victims, and provide early compensation to them; quickly take measures to also establish national compensation to Japanese civilian war victims who have been neglected up to now, such as victims of conventional air raids as well as atomic bombs.

        To ensure that younger generations without war experience will possess accurate historical consciousness, make efforts to provide historical education concerning the Asia-Pacific War based on sound scholarship; also, in constructing memorial facilities such as the presently contemplated "Peace Prayer Hall," always include exhibits dealing with the causes and realities of suffering in foreign countries.

        Make widely known to the world the terrible human experience of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic-bomb victims, and also the realities of survivors of postwar nuclear experiments such as in the Bikini Incident of 1954. At the same time, with the ultimate end in view of prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons by international law and attaining the early abolishment of nuclear arsenals, take the lead by passing legislation affirming Japan's "three non-nuclear principles" (prohibiting the production or possession of nuclear weapons, or their being brought into Japan by another country).

        With the understanding that we ourselves will engage in self-reflection on Japan's war responsibility, and will present the above concrete proposals to the Japanese government and Diet, we offer the International Appeal for Peace that is presented separately here.

        International Appeal for Global Peace on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of World War II

        It soon will be 50 years since the end of World War II, which caused enormous suffering to peoples throughout the world. We believe that this fiftieth anniversary should not be observed in ways that reinforce the enmity and mistrust associated with different positions during the war. Rather, it should be commemorated in a manner that turns the tragic war experience in the direction of building future peace for humanity. With this in mind, we propose the following eight principles:

        Upon the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, we pledge that, once having clearly established the responsibility of the Axis countries that started the war, we will mourn all war victims irrespective of nationality or race and make efforts to ensure that such enormous sacrifices will never be repeated.

        We take seriously the fact that even today, after 50 years, many questions remain concerning accurate numbers of war victims and the actual extent of war damages. Thus, we urge the countries involved to continue to investigate these matters and release pertinent information both domestically and internationally.

        We also take note of the fact that there still remain war victims who even to the present day have not received appropriate apologies and just compensation. We thus request that the former Axis countries involved investigate these matters and hasten to extend apologies and compensation for individual damages that are confirmed.

        Recalling that one of the cause of the war was mutual mistrust among the various countries, we consider it important to promote international exchanges concerning historical education and the like, with the ultimate objective of promoting mutual trust as well as education for peace and human rights in all countries.

        In making available materials that show the realities of war suffering and damages, we believe that such presentations should reflect sound scholarship. At the same time, efforts should be made to enlarge the common ground of historical perception by mutually exchanging materials and information even when positions during the war may have been antagonistic. In particular, in the case of the Asia-Pacific theater, more exhibitions would be held in Japan to publicize atrocities against foreigners symbolized by such incidents as the "Nanjing Massacre" and "Bataan Death March." In the United States, exhibitions depicting such matters as the atomic- bomb damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be promoted.

        Keeping in mind that the war marked the final defeat of fascism, we think it important to reaffirm the value of freedom, human rights, and democracy for all people, and to commit ourselves to eliminate discrimination based on race, nationality, religion, or gender.

        We give serious consideration to the fact that in the final stage of the war atomic bombs were used for the first time in history, victimizing many non-combatants and symbolically inaugurating a nuclear era in which the very existence of humanity is imperiled. We deem it necessary to increase recognition of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and work for their abolishment.

        To turn the lessons of the tragic war in the direction of future world peace, it is our hope that each nation, taking advantage of organization such as the United Nations, energetically pursues ways to peacefully resolve disputes while, at the same time, making efforts to overcome the poverty and environmental destruction that tend to give rise to conflict.

        It is our hope that many people, irrespective or nationality or race, will support these eight principles and make efforts to realize them in their own country. In working for a lasting peace for all humanity, we believe it is important to mutually understand the different meanings of peace consciousness that may exist among different peoples. Thus, in addition to soliciting your support of this appeal, we also welcome your comments.

        [Signatures of 35 Japanese university professors]return to text

      6. Document 6:

        Statement with the signatures of 137 well-known academics and public figures, handed over to Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on June 30, 1995

        We Urge the Japanese Government to Make Compensation without Further Delay

        The colonial domination and the war of aggression perpetrated by Imperial Japan left an enormous number of people in Asia, particularly on the Korean Peninsula and in China, still suffering from incurable wounds of mind and body. However diverse may be the views on history held by Japanese, no one can deny the unmistakable presence of these victimized people.

        Among such victims are the former "comfort women" and the forcibly drafted Asian workers, who were enslaved by the Japanese state in complete violation of their dignity as human beings, and compulsorily subject to unbearable torment and humiliation. It is self-evident that they are entitled to compensation by the Japanese state.

        Through a critical self-examination of the last militarist war, Japan in the post-war period has been striving to be reborn as a democratic nation based on the idea of universal human rights. As stated in the Constitution, democracy is "a universal principle of humankind," and universal human rights should be respected regardless of the difference in nationality. Compensation by the Japanese state for the grave infringements on human rights committed by it against Asian peoples could, therefore, stand as its testimony before world public opinion that it has transformed itself from militarism into a democracy.

        Nevertheless, no compensatory measures for these victimized individuals have been taken by the Japanese government up to the present. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, we urge the government to fulfill its responsibility at least to these two categories of people, even though there are other victims as well. No further delay is permissible in view of the aging of these people.

        If the government decides to make compensation to these individuals in the name of the Japanese state, we, as citizens of Japan, will be willing to cooperate by soliciting private contributions. We do not support the "Asian Peace and Friendship Fund for Women" recently publicized by the government, however, because it is intended to replace state indemnities by private donations. This is a formula which is utterly inappropriate and is bound to fail to meet the claim of the victims.

        Knowing that even state compensation will be far from sufficient to cure the profound wounds inflicted on these people, we sincerely seek their forgiveness, hoping that the state compensation will serve as a token of our apologies. At the same time, we must confess that we are deeply ashamed of the persistent evasion of war responsibility committed by the governments and the Diet.

        Standing at a crossroads of historic significance 50 years after the end of World War II, we urge the Japanese government to express an unequivocal apology and take concrete steps towards making due compensation to the victimized people so that the Japanese people may, in the words of the Constitution, "occupy an honored place in international society."return to textreturn to text

      7. Document 7

        Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama

        The world has seen 50 years elapse since the war came to an end. Now, when I remember the many people both at home and abroad who fell victim to war, my heart is overwhelmed by a flood of emotions.

        The peace and prosperity of today were built as Japan overcame great difficulty to arise from a devastated land after defeat in war. That achievement is something of which we are proud, and let me herein express my heartfelt admiration for the wisdom and untiring effort of each and every one of our citizens. Let me also express once again my profound gratitude for the indispensable support and assistance extended to Japan by the countries of the world, beginning with the United States of America. I am also delighted that we have been able to build the friendly relations which we enjoy today with the neighboring countries of the Asia-Pacific region, the United States and the countries of Europe.

        Now that Japan has come to enjoy peace and abundance, we tend to overlook the pricelessness and blessings of peace. Our task is to convey to younger generations the horrors of war, so that we never repeat the errors in our history. I believe that, as we join hands, especially with the peoples of neighboring countries, to ensure true peace in the Asia- Pacific region — indeed in the entire world — it is necessary, more than anything else, that we foster relations with all countries based on deep understanding and trust. Guided by this conviction, the Government has launched the Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative, which consists of two parts promoting: support for historical research into relations in the modern era between Japan and the neighboring countries of Asia and elsewhere; and rapid expansion of exchanges with those countries. Furthermore, I will continue in all sincerity to do my utmost in efforts being made on the issues arisen from the war, in order to further strengthen the relations of trust between Japan and those countries.

        Now, upon this historic occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war's end, we should bear in mind that we must look into the past to learn from the lessons of history, and ensure that we do not stray from the path to the peace and prosperity of human society in the future.

        During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology. Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history.

        Building from our deep remorse on this occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan must eliminate self-righteous nationalism, promote international coordination as a responsible member of the international community and, thereby, advance the principles of peace and democracy. At the same time, as the only country to have experienced the devastation of atomic bombing, Japan, with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons, must actively strive to further global disarmament in areas such as the strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. It is my conviction that in this way alone can Japan atone for its past and lay to rest the spirits of those who perished.

        It is said that one can rely on good faith. And so, at this time of remembrance, I declare to the people of Japan and abroad my intention to make good faith the foundation of our Government policy, and this is my vow.return to text