Have the Japanese apologised enough for the war? Here are some facts. In 1972, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka told the Chinese that Japan “deeply reproached itself”; in 1982, chief cabinet secretary Kiichi Miyazawa expressed “remorse”; the emperor himself, in 1990, spoke of his “deepest remorse” in South Korea; in 1995, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama offered his “profound apology” to Asian victims; Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, in China in 1997, repeated Murayama’s feelings of “deep remorse”; and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he was sorry in 2001, 2002, 2003 and yet again last month.
Given the fact that these apologies covered Japanese colonialism in Korea, the brutal invasion of China, the maltreatment of POWs and the forced prostitution of “comfort women”, it would be hard to maintain that Japan has officially denied its dark history. Does this mean, then, that the recent violent demonstrations in China, with mobs hurling stones at Japanese consulates, restaurants and shops while the police looked on benevolently at this venting of popular rage at “Japanese pigs”, were wholly off the mark?