China Voice: Japan's selective amnesia over wartime atrocities unacceptable

BEIJING, June 12 (Xinhua) -- People tend to let go of past pains because they want to move on.

The Asian people want to move on from the collective trauma by Japanese invaders nearly 77 years ago, but the Japanese government just does not let them.

In a Wednesday statement made by Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, the hundreds of thousands of lives that perished in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and lifelong suffering of Chinese sex slaves for invading Japanese troops were belittled as a "negative legacy."

The spokesman said Japan had lodged a protest and demanded China withdraw its application to list records of the massacre and sex slaves, or "comfort women," on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

He accused China of "unnecessarily playing up a negative legacy from a certain period of time" at a time when efforts are needed to improve bilateral relations.

His implication is that history, made of the collective memories of humankind, can be manipulated by a country attempting to hide parts of its past from the world.

However, the spokesman may not realize that history cannot be divided into "the positive" and "the negative," but only into "truth" and "lies."

The fact is, China took the step, as China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying put it, simply to memorialize history and cherish peace.

And the move came at just the right time, given the annoyingly equivocal attitudes of the Japanese government toward its wartime atrocities.

In a typical case in March, the Japanese government promised not to change its 1993 official apology made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono over wartime sex slavery. But it insisted on a re-examination of historical evidence the statement was based on, a provocative move denounced by its neighbors as an insult to the victims.

As the Japanese government feels it is so easy to let go of the past, is it too much for the victims to kindly remind someone with a "vague" memory of what the country's troops did?

More sadly, it seems that the Japanese government has regarded shunning controversy as a precondition for improving relations.

No doubt China adheres to pacifism, but it will never sacrifice national dignity to bow to any power.

People make friends based on trust, not on lies. This principle applies to state relationships as well.

For the Japanese government, it would be wiser to face up to history and reflect on the rising militarism on its home turf, rather than racking their brains for lame excuses to shirk responsibilities.

Japan is among the most livable places in the world for its safe food and blue sky. The Japanese people are known for their courtesy and hospitality. And why does the Japanese government refuse to maintain the country's good image abroad by showing sincere repentance for its past crimes?

Nobody likes to hold on to past pains. Forgiveness only comes after sincere repentance.

Seven decades after the brutal War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945), the victims are dying. However, the dead and the living are still awaiting justice. This is high time for the Japanese government to remember, not to forget.