"Cruelty is a virtue, not a vice." So wrote Sade in “Philosophy in the Boudoir “, his manifesto of the philosophy of pure evil. In works such as 120 Days of Sodom he wrote of grotesque tortures, perversions and murders committed on innocent women and children. Yet even the horrors of his novel which include burning eye lids off, having intestines ripped out, and having flesh stripped off the limbs do not compare with the pure satanic acts committed by the “noble and honorable samurai” of Japan on the innocent, the weak and the helpless. Sade asked to be buried in an unmarked grave, so that "my memory will disappear from the minds of men." The government of Japan is attempting to do the same thing as Sade: erase memories of their wickedness from the memories of men. In April of 2005, the Japanese government approved textbooks that both justified Japanese aggression in the 1930s and 1940s and ignored Japanese atrocities during the same era. Unlike the government of Germany, Japan has done everything to see to it that the past is forgotten. A controversial global issue is the dispute over Japanese text books currently used which while approved by the Japanese government is accused of largely whitewashing Japanese atrocities of the twentieth century.
The people of China, both North and South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore an other victims of Japanese aggression argue that Japan’s textbooks pollute the minds of future generations by ignoring Japan’s crimes against humanity. In April of 2005, spontaneous demonstrations broke out across China. These were not demonstrations organized by the government. The People’s Republic of China would rather put aside nationalism and simply pursue its realpolitik political and economic interests. But the people of China could not stand for such an offense; they took their struggle to the streets attacking Japanese businesses and embassies. They believe that it is more than nationalism that motivates them; they believe it is about human dignity. Outside of the Japanese consulate protesters shouted "The blood covering Japan's hands has yet to be washed clean". While protest have been most vocal in the People’s Republic of China, the people of South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, North Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Burma have joined in calling for the textbooks to be revised. Many of those nations have strong disputes with each other, yet they are united in their opposition to Japan.
The twentieth century has been a century of dishonor for Japan. Among the crimes of the Japanese government have been the 1895 assassination of the last empress of Korea who was raped, disemboweled and burned alive, the 1935 Rape of Nanking which included raping both infants and the elderly, massed beheadings, grotesque and sadistic sex murders and the murder of 300,000 civilians. The Japanese also operated horrid experimental labs in which civilians were infected with diseases, operated upon, had internal organs removed while conscious, had limbs reattached in different parts of the body, and had rats inserted into the stomachs of pregnant women. The Japanese claimed that the Chinese were subhuman pigs and distributed opium to keep them under control. These are just some of the crimes Japan committed that cost 35 million Chinese lives. Japanese war crimes are still costing lives today through mines, unexploded shells, diseases from Japanese experimentation, and biological and chemical contamination. Despite these repulsive actions, the Japanese government has approved of a high-school textbook that refers to the Nanjing Massacre as an "incident," de-emphasizes the subject of the Chinese comfort women, and avoids the contemporary issues surrounding Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni shrine, in honor of Japanese soldiers, some of whom were tried as war criminals. Chinese protesters have called for Japan to make their textbooks more accurate, make an official apology and to pay reparations for crimes committed during World War II. Both the Peoples Republic of China and South Korea have called for the boycott of Japanese goods and for opposition to Japan gaining a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The Japanese government argues that the textbooks do justice to Japan’s past and that the reaction in the People’s Republic of China, North and South Korea, and its other neighbors are uncalled for. In the actual textbooks in question the argument is made that Japan went to war to liberate her Asian brothers from western imperialism and that she was forced into war by American strangling of her resources. The Japanese also point out that there are inaccuracies in Chinese textbooks, which depict the Japanese as bandits, ignore faults in the Communist Part, treat Mao like a demigod and ignore Chinese aggressions in Asia. Furthermore the Japanese argue the protests are politically motivated by Japan’s support of Taiwan. The Japanese government is angered by the economic damage done by the protests and demands an apology and reparations.
The people of Asia have every right to be outraged at this new Japanese crime against history, if Japan truly wishes to be a respectable nation and to live up to its so called principles of honor it will take responsibilities for its crimes and outlaw the textbooks in question. The international community should look beyond politics on this issue and join together in condemning this travesty. The Japanese have made a mockery of one of the most sacred institutions of civilization: education. The worst thing that Japan can do to its victims is to ignore them. All the people of China and Korea want are for the children of Japan to know the truth. It would do the leaders of Japan good to remember the saying of the great philosopher Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it." The textbook controversy is not about the past, it is about Japan poisoning the minds of the future.