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Activists alarmed over Japanís increasing militarism

International congress with 600 participants

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

TOKYO, Japan - Concerned citizens from around the world gathered at the International Citizen's Forum on War Crimes and Redress (ICF) in Tokyo recently to address the question of Japan's role in the Second World War and to help its victims obtain justice from Japan.

Several groups, including the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia and the World Jewish Congress supported the event. Organizers were a coalition of Japanese scholars, attorneys and human rights activists.

The organizers want to see the historical record righted for victims and the Japanese young people and to foster better relationships between Japan and its neighbours. For their troubles, they are branded traitors by conservatives in their own country, and feel threatened.

The group claims that Japan's war history consistently has been whitewashed and distorted through censorship. They note that with the exception of a few, Japanese war criminals were never prosecuted and that one Class A war criminal - Kishi Nobusake - was a two-term prime minister. The group is particularly alarmed over rising militarism in Japanese society and within the government in recent years which includes parliamentary decisions to make the rising sun emblem its national flag and a hymn to the emperor its national hymn.

Lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democrats publicly have endorsed a film that glorifies war criminals as honourable Ďsamuraisí and that explains the invasion of China in the 1930s as a just campaign to liberate that country from Western colonialism when in effect Japan intervened in a Chinese civil war on the pretext to protect its interests.

A German academic at the 600-registrants international conference noted that his country was forced to deal with the atrocious history of its Nazi era because of the attitude of the German citizenry, inferring that real change must come from inside Japan.