Japan’s Postwar Settlement in U.S.-Japan Relations: Continuity of Prewar Ideology in Domestic Politics
This year (2006) marks the sixty-first year since Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces in the Pacific War and accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Since then, Japan has apologized many times for the wrongs it committed during its era of militarist expansion. Japan has paid reparations in various forms, including provision of products and services, monetary indemnities and Official Development Assistance (ODA). Nevertheless, many northeast Asians, namely people in China and South Korea, still believe that Japan has not sufficiently atoned for the wrongdoing it committed during its period of militarist expansion. This can be confirmed by the series of violent anti-Japan demonstrations that erupted this past spring (2005) in mainland China. Vehement protests by South Koreans early last year (2005), upon the submission of a bill by the assembly in Shimane Prefecture (Japan’s closest province to the disputed island of Takeshima/Tokdo) to set up a symbolic prefectural ordinance establishing February 22 as Takeshima Day, also reveal much unresolved sentiments among Japan’s neighbors. Opposition by Chinese and South Korean governments to Japan’s bid for a permanent member seat in the United Nations Security Council is another evidence of their dissatisfaction with Japan’s way of dealing with its past. In other words, “although the postwar period is becoming a distant past, it is not over yet, as far as the history issue is concerned.” Japan’s militarist past not only still haunts but also complicates the country’s diplomacy today even more than before.
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