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throwaccount's avatar

Do you think Japan have erased their past?

Asked by throwaccount (147points) April 5th, 2016

I was watching a video on Youtube about dolphins looking and admiring themselves in the mirror when I encountered a comment that reminded me about the whaling in Japan. This made me feel sad because these animals are not doing anything to them but they kill them because it’s their “tradition”.

Then, I saw blood in my mind and I remembered reading my country’s history back in World War II on how bloodthirsty and disgusting they are for killing, bayoneting, beheading and shooting their prisoners for no reason. They also raped and killed a lot of our women but Japan denies they raped these women and Japan won’t publicly apologise to them. Japan also won’t give them compensation. The comfort women left in my country are only 70 or less, they used to be in hundreds but a lot of them are now dead and it feels like Japan would love to wait for the rest of them to die so they won’t have to deal with what they did to our women anymore.

Japan seems to erase the past with all their culture, anime, manga, their cherry blossoms and their Tokyo lights. Now, all the people love Japan. You won’t hear a single shit from people talking about what they did, instead you would hear them say, “it’s all in the past”. I don’t hate Japan at all, in fact I used to love Japan and their culture influenced me so much. I love animating (my dream is to be an animator) and reading their manga, I also know that not every Japanese person is bad, but people seem to forget about what they really did.

Do you think they have erased the past?

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18 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

No. Yet collective memories die as generations die.

My parents were at the youngest age for those who fought in WW2, my dad turned 18 in 1943. And their children are all in their fifties and sixties. Our children, the grandkids of the “best generation” have little connection to the realities of the war.

Same in Japan, where those in their 20s and 30s have little connection to a war over 70 years ago, and atrocities from 80 years ago. Any Japanese soldier who participated in the Rape of Nanking would be almost a hundred years old, if not well over one hundred. Same with many of the survivors.

They have not erased the past, it has been buried as they die.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – G. Santayana

Pachy's avatar

If not totally erased, certainly revised. Every country/culture has done it and is doing it, including the US.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Fun fact: Korea forced Japan to apologize for what they did in WWII every year. They also have very high standard for employees and there are stories about them forcing foreign employees to kneel down for even smallest mistake. But they never admit to what they did in the Vietnam war. They goes on strike, they shout insults, they beat witnesses up. In reality, during the war they did much more horrible things than America and Japan in WWII. Rape, random shooting, cannibalism… just a small part of what they did. And now they are “bombarting” the world with pop music and drama and people love Korea. Also Korea is one of the only three countries in this entire world to eat dogs.

So it seems that Japan isn’t the only country that you should be worrying for erasing the past. What do you choose, digging up the past and the hate or looking at them for what they are now?

janbb's avatar

I think that of all the countries I am aware of, Germany has done the best job of really looking at their sins of the past, teaching about it to students and trying to learn from it. America has not really completely confronted or atoned for the evils of slavery or of Indian genocide or of dropping the atomic bomb. My impression of Japan is similar to yours but not based on any real knowledge.

I think every country should look at its past in order to try to learn and improve as a society, and to make amends as it can to those it has wronged.

I assume the OP is Korean based on your mention of the comfort women.

throwaccount's avatar

@Mimishu1995 I don’t hate Japan at all, I just hate how they cover things up and deny what really happened. There were also American soldiers who were deported to Japan and made them slaves but Japan also won’t give these people compensation and they keep ignoring them. It’s just weird how they are.

throwaccount's avatar

My boyfriend and I are friends with a guy who has a Japanese girlfriend. Last year, they went to Japan and this guy was so amazed because it’s like heaven and everything is perfect and it makes them depressed to not live there (we live in a third-world country).

Edit: They also told us that that’s why the Japanese people are so weird, because everything is in Japan so they search for something new.

They were also amazed on how polite the Japanese people are. They are so polite that they are sometimes only being polite because they don’t want to have a bad name, their politeness is almost fake. He and his girlfriend figured out that some of the Japanese people kill themselves because they are too polite and they would rather keep things to themselves rather than speak and have a bad name. I don’t know if this has any connections with what they are doing now with the past, but for me, it’s so weird.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@throwaccount then you should hate Korea for their fierce demanding for apology while actively covering up their crime at the same time too. I don’t deny some Koreans who actually came to Vietnam to apologize, but they are just individual work. Their government just denies everything and to this day they haven’t done anything similar to Japan apologizing every year.

My take of the matter is that the government just doesn’t want to have “bad name” as you put it. No government in this world does. It’s just how willing they are to face the truth and how effectively they make their citizens believe that counts. I know the Korean soldiers who went on strike for fear of being exposed to the truth had their reason. They didn’t want to have bad name, and the gorvenment make them believe that they were actually fighting for greater cause. Some soldier even thought they were protecting the Vietnamese! I think the one we should really judge is the government, not the entire country.

LazyMe10's avatar

I dont think they have. I think the younger generation may not care, but really really older people know there history and what actually happen. Some countries tell the full story of there history and what happen but then if foreign countries get there hands on that history they will change it. Change it to fit there needs or make it seem like that country is the worst ever. Japan and America both have there dark histories that they do or do not want people to know. They only want people to know what they tell then and not the truth. That’s probably what there doing, only telling you bits and pieces of what they want you to know. America is the same damn way, none is are perfect. I think I rambled a bit too much, sorry.

Jak's avatar

America has absolutely no moral superiority in this conversation.

ragingloli's avatar

The countries that have properly dealt with their past can probably be counted on one hand.
And I do not think Japan is one of them
And when you bring up other certain self-proclaimed countries, you get attempted justifications for nuclear terrorism, how slavery was not so bad, and that genocide against natives is not relevant because it is in the past.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Why? What nation on this planet doesn’t have something in their cellar they hope no one happens upon. Even those touting themselves as bastions of freedom and liberty like Uncle Sam has a lot of funk in his cellar to hang his head over, even those things he thought he buried pretty good.

flutherother's avatar

Japan quite rightly will never forget the atomic bombs that were dropped on its cities during the Second World War but it refuses to acknowledge the crimes committed by its own forces in China. More civilians were killed in cold blood in Nanjing in 1937 than were killed by the two atomic bombs. War crimes on such a scale don’t go away, they fester in the public mind until they are acknowledged and the chances of them being repeated are thereby lessened.

imrainmaker's avatar

No one can erase their it Japan, China, USA, Russia,UK. It can go out of public memory because of generation changes but whatever bad has been done has been done. Will the world ever forget the wrong doings of British Rulers on its colonies 100 years ago? I don’t think so. Can they erase it from their history?

JLeslie's avatar

When I visited the history museum in Tokyo I was shocked how little space WWII was given. Maybe as an American I expected to see more. I wondered if it was because they lost the war? Or, some of the horrible after affects from us dropping the bomb that the Japanese prefer to not dwell on it. Or, maybe with Japan’s long history WWII is just a blip?

Actually, throughout history the Japanese have done some horrible things, many countries have, and they don’t seem to drag out that history. I might be wrong. I know our German jellies are quick to compare other leaders to Hitler, despise nationalism, it seems like Germany has an air of never firget and never again, even though of course not their entire citizenry is of the same mind. Still, there seems to be a conscious effort in Germany to teach the mistakes of the past.

By the way, Japan is wonderful in my opinion. The people are respectful, cities are clean and quiet, quality of food was impressive, including the grocery stores, and I felt safe.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I think there has been an official attempt to blank out history. According to George Hicks (1995) in his book about comfort women the Japanese government has kept any reference to the officially-organised use of comfort women during WWII, “out of the nation’s textbooks”. As you are aware, Japan has apologised to South Korea over the use of their women, but not to Chinese, Taiwanese or other women affected by their government policy.

In addition, I wasn’t there, but my husband visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and had a conversation with one of the staff there, a guide. There is a section that deals with Japanese prisoners of war in WWII. My husband had asked him how Japanese visitors reacted to the information presented. He said Japanese visitors often (or appeared to) lacked knowledge of their country’s actions, so he was glad to see them at the Memorial and seeing the atrocities from this very different perspective.

So I do think the Japanese government has sanitized history for its people. As late as 2007, Japan’s Prime Minister denied comfort women were used (see this The Washington Post article).

As @janbb has mentioned, the Japanese respone to their wartime activities is very different to the approach taken in Germany.

martijacobs's avatar

Most if it, I think they have to deal with it. I´m not so sure they fully erased it. As we never fully erased mistakes, I think we want to know about the past because we find it challenging, frustrating, exciting, exhilarating, and depressing.

History teaches us valuable things both about others and ourselves. Of course, It´s not my intention to say that we don’t have the right to point out what seems wrong, of course we have, we need to raise our voice to what most favorable to social welfare.

However professionally skeptical we may be about learning from the past, there is no doubt that we try to do it all the time. We constantly tell stories about the past to our students, friends, children—and to ourselves—stories that are supposed to convey moral and practical lessons about how to behave. I think, they haven´t, and not even the society, we keep talking about it, so true, is that this post has already a bunch of post talking about it.

Brian1946's avatar


Are you referring to Korea before 1949?

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Brian1946 no, that was Korea during Vietnam war. The Korean soldiers who fought against Vietnam alongside with America.

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