This post resembles a bottle thrown into the ocean with a message inside. Will anyone pick it up, or will it keep drifting with all the meaningless information clouding our senses and reason? It results from a dream I had in October 2014. Although it may sound presumptuous, this message is titled “Open Letter to Asia: Soul-Searching on the Occasion of the Seventieth Commemoration of the Pacific War and Suggestions for Japan’s Reconciliation with Asia.” Let me append the full text below. A PDF version if available from the following links: English PDF version, Japanese PDF version, English and Japanese bilingual version. These files are designed to be in the public domain. It depends on each of you whether these small seeds grow. It is only a matter of finding the right soil and the proper conditions, isn’t it? I welcome suggestions for improving the wording in either language, or constructive criticism of the content. If you agree with what is being said, you are encouraged to circulate this message to friends or acquaintances, or even to translate this message into your own language. In this case, please be kind enough to leave a note in the comments. May all beings be happy!
Open Letter to Asia
Soul-Searching on the Occasion of the Seventieth Commemoration of the Pacific War and Suggestions for Japan’s Reconciliation with Asia
Although seventy years have elapsed since the conclusion of the Pacific War, wounds are still vivid and even tend to be exacerbated by the lack of sincere reflection and unambiguous apology from the Japanese government. Those of us who love Japan’s traditional emphasis on sincerity (makoto) cannot watch this scene without being appalled and without thinking that with minimal effort Japan could reconcile with its neighbors and finally turn the page of its militaristic past. Coming to terms with past atrocities may sound difficult but is the only way forward. Germany has shown that it is possible. This nevertheless implies genuine reflection on the complex historical factors that led Japan to lose touch with the rest of Asia. It should also be emphasized that this reflection is not limited to Japan and could apply to any country losing touch with reality and treading the path of militarism. Here are a few suggestions on how to express such sincere reflection and apology in the spirit of this open letter. Precisely because nothing can be expected from the Japanese government, intellectuals and private citizens feeling a sense of responsibility must take the lead.
- Although words cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted on so many people and cannot revive those who died because of absurd ideologies, we express our deepest remorse for the past actions of the Japanese army and civilians abroad. Even if they initially derived from the desire to compete with colonial powers, we feel ashamed by the unfortunate policies followed in Asia since the Meiji era, which led to such devastating militarism until 1945 and harmed so many individuals across the world. There is no justification for the mad militaristic ideology that was used throughout these years to kill and oppress people even within Japan.
- When necessary, we, intellectuals and responsible citizens, have the duty to stand against our own government and denounce its unjust belligerent actions, its exploitation of other people inside or outside the national boundaries, and to oppose the use of misleading rhetoric to justify such actions. We vow never to repeat mistakes done during the Pacific War.
- We can only express our sincerest apology and vow never to let similar barbarous acts be repeated, but a small awareness can trigger huge changes. May all individuals be mindful of their actions and of their consequences, and pledge to never blindly follow warmongers!
Written on April 19, 2015.