“The Japanese government has accepted the facts of history in a spirit of humility, expressed once again our feelings of deep remorse and our heartfelt apology,” Mr. Kishida, the foreign minister, said on Tuesday. “Prime Minister Abe shares that view.”
According to the NYT, US warnings of fallout with Japan played no small part in Mr. Abe’s reconsideration. With North Korea in the midst of a series of hysterical fits and China deploying an aggressive regional foreign policy, Japan wants all the support and confidence it can get from the US right now.The attempts to deny, excuse, paper-over, or justify the war crimes Japan committed seven decades ago is easy for outsiders to scoff at. Nevertheless, finding a way to come to terms with the evils done by the Imperial Japanese Army is a very real dilemma for some in Japan today—much as it still is for many Turks regarding the Armenian Genocide, or even for some Germans and the Holocaust (and, we hasten to add, some Americans and the legacy of slavery).What we hope those in Japan will eventually come to understand is that coming to terms with the past would help build up Japan’s legitimacy and international reputation, not tear it down. Few countries in the world have made such rapid and thorough transformations from conquered villain to peaceful and prosperous global power as has Japan. The day its people find a way to accept history rather than bury it or sanctify it will mark the start of an even brighter future.