Friday, December 16, 2005

Asean must also condemn war shrine visit

With the public reprimand of Burma on its human rights violation which is right and appropriate, Asean has finally breached its 'non-interference' policy.

However, I think, it is equally important for Asean to summon up its moral courage to condemn any more visit to the Yakusuni Shrine by any Japanese prime ministers, ministers and other top government officials, distortion of history books or any other rightwing attempt to justify or glorify the greatest and most systematic violation of human rights against human beings in Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore.

On the issue of Yasukuni Shrine, China and both Koreas are certainly right and PM Junichiro Koizumi's government is definitely wrong. Period.

Let me repeat what I have said (in the context of Malaysia and Singapore but equally applicable to other Southeast Asian countries) in an earlier entry:

Amid the China/South Korea-Japan row over Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine which honours, among other, 14 convicted war criminals, some Malaysians seem to see the issue only as an China/South Korea-Japan dispute to be mediated by the 'disinterested' and 'more rational' us who often posture ourselves to be happy and peaceful creatures living outside world and regional history since time immemorial.

It is time for critical re-thinking and soul-searching.

Are we blissfully disinterested or woefully ignorant of the history of our own land?

Or, knowing the true history privately, we decide to publicly distort and whitewash it to serve domestic political agenda or as quid pro quo conditions for receiving foreign aids, loans, scholarships or investments? If yes, then are we economically so pathetic or morally so degenerated that we have to almost literally sell the honour and dignity of our parents and grandparents for money now?

As for PM Jonichiro Koizumi, I am afraid I have to say I am not convinced at all by his latest claim that he visited the Yasukuni Shrine repeatedly "to repent".

Genuine repentance in deeds necessitate, among other concrete and specific measures, the removal of whatever icons representing the 14 convicted war criminals out from the Yasukuni Shrine and the ban of any public display of the military banners or symbols associated with Fascist Japan before 15 August 1945.

Words are cheap as the simultaneous diplomatic negotiation in Washington and preparation to strike at Pearl Harbour in December 1941 demonstrated.