Japan not WWII aggressor, says air force chief
Posted Sat Nov 1, 2008 12:25am AEDT
Japan's air force chief has released an essay saying that the nation was not the aggressor in World War II, in comments likely to anger Asian neighbours.
The essay was authored by General Toshio Tamogami, chief of staff of Japan's Air Self-Defence Force, and won the top award in an inaugural contest aimed at describing "true views of modern history."
"Even now, there are many people who think that our country's 'aggression' caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War," said the English-language version of the essay.
"But we need to realise that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War," it said.
"In Thailand, Burma, India, Singapore, and Indonesia, the Japan that fought the Greater East Asia War is held in high esteem," it said.
"It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation."
The Greater East Asia War was a term used by Japan to describe the conflict in the Asia-Pacific theatre, emphasising that it involved Asian nations seeking independence from the Western powers.
The essay, entitled "Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?," was posted on the website of a Japanese hotel chain which organised the contest.
Mr Tamogami argued that Japan was drawn into World War II by then US president Franklin D Roosevelt, whom he said was being manipulated by the Comintern.
Mr Tamogami also rejected the verdicts of an Allied tribunal which convicted Japanese wartime leaders as war criminals after Tokyo's defeat in 1945.
The thesis also runs counter to a 1995 statement issued by then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama and endorsed by his successors, which apologised for Japan's past aggression and colonial rule in Asia.
The statement acknowledged that Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, "caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations."
But there has been a persistent nationalistic argument in Japan that the Murayama statement was part of the country's "masochism" aimed at accommodating Asian neighbours.
Japan renounced the right to wage war after World War II and calls its de facto military the Self-Defence Forces.