By Zhu Dongyang
BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Spats between Japan and its Asian neighbors over its imperialist history escalated again after the Japanese public broadcaster NHK's new chairman claimed that the Japanese imperial army's "comfort women" brothel system was "common" worldwide during war time.
Such twisted readings of history will only further damage Japan's image in the region and on the world stage. If unchecked, they will also add more fuel to the fire of anger in countries like China and South Korea, which were once brutally invaded and occupied by Japan in history.
Katsuto Momii, widely denounced for his reckless talking in the past couple of days, expressed regret on Monday and admitted that his comments were "extremely inappropriate," but he refused to resign as many have demanded.
Regretful as he might be, the damage has been done. His inflammatory words have triggered a new round of fury in the already volatile region.
Such remarks, made by the leader of Japan's biggest international broadcaster, reflect the overall right-leaning trend among the country's political and media elite.
Toru Hashimoto, mayor of the Japanese city Osaka, prompted global outrage last year by suggesting that "comfort women" were "necessary" to keep battle-stressed soldiers in check.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe incurred a region-wide uproar in 2007 by saying that there was no evidence that Japan directly forced women to work as sex slaves, a blatant denial of the landmark 1993 statement by then chief Japanese government spokesman Yohei Kono, who apologized to former comfort women and acknowledged Japan's role in causing their suffering.
It is a proven fact that Japan forcibly recruited tens of thousands of women from its country and Asian neighbors to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.h Rightist Japanese politicians' efforts to whitewash the country's war-time aggression are jeopardizing regional peace and stability.
Japanese policy-makers should be held accountable for the deterioration of relations between Japan and its Asian neighbors, as they constantly make provocations on history in attempt to pander to the escalated right-leaning forces in their own country.
It is understandable that Japan's neighbors now keep a vigilant eye on the country as it has consistently shown a lack of repentance over its war crimes.
From a broader view, the twisted readings of history expressed by Momii and Japanese politicians are not only an insult to the aggrieved "comfort women," but also represents the general grievance among the Japanese elite on the country's lost glory in World War II, and the post-war confinement of its military and political muscle.
For now, Momii's remarks are surely taking a toll on NHK's reputation and Japan's national image.
For the long run, If Japan wants to be accepted as a responsible member of the regional and global community, it has no choice but to face up to history and sincerely apologize for its war-time wrongdoing.
S.Korea praises U.S. call for Japan's apology to comfort women
SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Thursday welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives' calling for Japan to apologize to comfort women coerced into sex slavery by Japanese forces during the Second World War.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told a regular press briefing that the appeal clearly represented the international community's attitude towards the Japanese violation of dignity and human rights of women. Full story