The Newsletter 72 Autumn 2015

Two types of revisionism: historical perceptions 70 years after World War II in Japan

Chong Young-hwan

IN REFLECTING ON historical perceptions in Japan as it passes the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, it is not possible to exclude the issue of an historical revisionism that attempts to justify colonization and imperial invasion prior to 1945. Regarding Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s official statement on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, August 14th, it is important to note how his remarks have been evaluated and understood. Prime Minister Abe maintains the position that “judgement of history should be left to historians” and that we should “try to avoid viewing the Asia-Pacific War as a war of aggression”, while he at the same time continues to deliberately refuse to recognize Japan’s responsibility over ‘comfort women’ for the Imperial Japanese Army. Such a course of historical revisionism still holds a strong social influence in Japan, and it is the radical right-wing groups that Prime Minister Abe is politically based upon.