Historical revisionism undermines Abe’s apology

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reads out his statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on 14 August 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

On 14 August, the day before the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a long-awaited statement on Japanese memory of the war and his vision for the future. In it, he emphasised that the apologies given by previous Japanese cabinets ‘will remain unshakable into the future’. Read more…

Abe’s WWII statement fails history 101

Shinzo Abe statement WWII

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

As the clock ticked down to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Asia Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced a dilemma. His right-wing supporters were pushing him to produce a commemorative statement that would move away from the apologetic approach of his predecessors and ‘restore Japan’s pride’. Read more…

70 years on, peace remains incomplete

Paper lanterns float on the Motoyasu River in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima on August 6, 2015 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

‘Japan has appeared to surrender, and we are waiting this weekend to hear whether this will become effective. If so, this horrible war will be at an end, but many of its ill-effects will be with us for a long time. It is, in fact, a new world that lies before us. I hope that freedom, beauty, quiet and security may find a place in it. It is a hope without much confidence.’ Read more…

Still a way to go for Japanese minorities

Ainu drummers hammer out the sounds of their musical tradition. The Ainu were not officially recognised as an indigenous people until 2008. (Photo by:  Gianfranco Chicco).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

In August 2014 Yasuyuki Kaneko, a city councillor for Sapporo, sparked intense controversy by tweeting ‘there are no such people as the Ainu any more, are there? [But] they constantly demand rights they don’t deserve. How can this be reasonable?’ Read more…

Japanese war apologies lost in translation

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko offer a flower wreath at a memorial for the US military as they offer prayers for war victims at Peleliu island in Palau on 9 April 2015. 15 August 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

15 August 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. It should be a solemn moment for reflection on a terrible episode that took many millions of lives, inflicted untold suffering and had consequences that still profoundly shape our world. Read more…

Remembrance, reconciliation and the East Asian memory wars


Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

‘The past’, as William Faulkner once wrote, ‘is not dead, it isn’t even past’. Nowhere is this more true than in today’s East Asia. The recent ‘memory wars’ between the countries of the region — particularly (though not exclusively) between Japan and its neighbours China and Korea — are eloquent testimony to the power of the past to haunt the present and influence the course of domestic and international politics. Read more…

Japan and the art of un-apologising

A regular rally of former so-called comfort women call for an apology from Japan in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, 22 January 2014. Japan forcibly took tens of thousands of Asian women, mostly Koreans, to battlefields to provide sexual services for the Japanese army during World War II. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

The Japanese government has long had difficulties coming up with effective apologies for the wartime misdeeds of the country’s military. For decades, while many ordinary Japanese grassroots groups worked tirelessly to right the wrongs of the past, the silence from the corridors of power in Tokyo was deafening. Read more…