The Japanese Ambassador to the Philipines, Toshinao Urabe, has publicly apologized for the atrocities committed by the Japanese military there during World War II. On the country’s “Day of Valor,” the Ambassador addressed a gathering of Filipino war veterans and their families in Pilar, Bataan:
“Seventy-two years have passed. Still, it hurts to remember the hardship and pain suffered by so many during those fateful days. I wish to express our heartfelt apologies and deep sense of remorse for such inexplicable suffering,” declared ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe on Wednesday before hundreds of Filipino veterans and their families, who celebrated Araw ng Kagitingan at Mt. Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan.Urabe said WW II, the deadliest military conflict in history, which killed over 60 million people or 2.5 percent of the world population and between 500,000 and one million in the Philippines, had taught Japan a “valuable” lesson: “The use of force does not create solutions, it only creates problems.”
The word “inexplicable” sounds odd to our ears, but perhaps that’s an awkward translation. There is certainly an explanation for the atrocities: the brutality of the Japanese military.Japan hasn’t taken nearly as conciliatory a tone with China and Korea, however. Indeed, members of Shinzo Abe’s government have repeatedly refused to apologize to the Chinese and Korean women whom the Imperial Army forced into sexual slavery. Other Abe allies have gone so far as to say that the the Nanjing Massacre, in which about 200,000 people were killed, “never happened.”Urabe told the gathering that Japan is committed to its pacifist policies, but at home in Japan, Abe continues to take steps to remilitarize the country. This apology may not be enough in itself to assuage concerns about Japanese militarism, but the gesture of goodwill signals that Japan considers the Philippines a key ally in its attempt to balance an aggressive China.