History Issues
History Issues Q&A

January 1, 2006

Q1: How does the Government of Japan recognize the history concerning the previous war?

  1. In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility, and with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means.
  2. In this way, Japan has directly faced the past with regard to the war and, with feelings of deep remorse, has made maxi efforts to build a future-oriented and co-operative relationship with Asian nations, especially China and the Republic of Korea. We will work to achieve the peace and prosperity of the world in the future as well.

(Reference 1)
Excerpt from Statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (15 August, 2005)

"In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Sincerely facing these facts of history, I once again express my feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and also express the feelings of mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, in the war. I am determined not to allow the lessons of that horrible war to erode, and to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world without ever again waging a war.

Japan's postwar history has indeed been six decades of manifesting its remorse on the war through actions.

Exchange with Asian countries in a wide variety of areas, such as economy and culture, has also increased on an unprecedented scale. I believe it is necessary to work hand in hand with other Asian countries, especially with China and the Republic of Korea, which are Japan's neighboring countries separated only by a strip of water, to maintain peace and pursue the development of the region. Through squarely facing the past and rightly recognizing the history, I intend to build a future-oriented cooperative relationship based on mutual understanding and trust with Asian countries."

(Reference 2)
Excerpt from Speech by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the Asian-African Summit (April 22, 2005)

"In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility. And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to use of force. Japan once again states its resolve to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world in the future as well, prizing the relationship of trust it enjoys with the nations of the world."

(Reference 3)
Excerpt from Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama (15 August 1995)

"Now, upon this historic occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the war's end, we should bear in mind that we must look into the past to learn from the lessons of history, and ensure that we do not stray from the path to the peace and prosperity of human society in the future.

During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology. Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history."

(Reference 4)
Examples of International Contribution by Japan in the Postwar Period

- Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Since 1954, Japan has provided a total of approximately US$221 billion (cumulative total to 2003) to 185 countries and regions.

- Contributions to the United Nations

Japan is currently the second largest contributor to United Nations funds, contributing 19.468% (2004-06) of the total assessed contributions. This is a figure larger than the total contributions of the four permanent members of the Security Council, excluding the United States. (UK: 6.127%; France: 6.030%; China: 2.053%; Russia: 1.100%)

- Personnel contribution

As part of efforts to promote peace and stability in the international community, Japan has been engaged in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (PKO), international humanitarian relief activities and international election monitoring activities. Among these activities, Japanese personnel have participated in PKO in Cambodia, Mozambique, the Golan Heights, and Timor Leste. In addition, since November 2001, the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have been engaged in cooperation and assistance activities in the fight against terrorism, including refueling support in the Indian Ocean, and, since December 2003, the SDF have been implementing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance activities in Iraq.

In addition, by March 2004, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan had dispatched a cumulative total of 280,000 personnel to engage in technical cooperation work to 166 countries, accepted approximately 280,000 trainees, and dispatched a total of approximately 27,000 Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) to a total of 79 countries.

Q2: Is it true that Japan has not formally apologized to the countries of Asia that suffered during the previous war involving Japan?

  1. Japan has always engraved in mind feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology with regard to the tremendous damage and suffering that it caused in the past through its colonial rule and aggression to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. On various occasisions, Japan has clearly expressed these feelings of remorse and apology, and its resolve to ensure that such an unfortunate history is never repeated, as shown in the statement by the then Prime Minister on August 15, 1995.
  2. For example, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed these feelings of remorse and apology in his statement on August 15,2005. On such occasions when leaders of other countries, including China and the Republic of Korea, visited our country, these feelings of remorse and apology have been expressed.

(Reference 1)
Excerpt from the Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China (September 29, 1972)

"The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself."

(Reference 2)
Excerpt from Japan-China Joint Declaration on Building a Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development (November 26, 1998)

"Both sides believe that squarely facing the past and correctly understanding history are the important foundation for further developing relations between Japan and China. The Japanese side observes the 1972 Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China and the 15 August 1995 Statement by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious distress and damage that Japan caused to the Chinese people through its aggression against China during a certain period in the past and expressed deep remorse for this. The Chinese side hopes that the Japanese side will learn lessons from the history and adhere to the path of peace and development. Based on this, both sides will develop long-standing relations of friendship."

(Reference 3)
Excerpt from the Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration: A New Japan-Republic of Korea Partnership towards the Twenty-first Century (October 8, 1998)

"Looking back on the relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea during this century, Prime Minister Obuchi regarded in a spirit of humility the fact of history that Japan caused, during a certain period in the past, tremendous damage and suffering to the people of the Republic of Korea through its colonial rule, and expressed his deep remorse and heartfelt apology for this fact."

Q3: What kind of reparations did Japan make to the countries and people who suffered during the previous war?

  1. At the end of the Second World War, Japan dealt collectively with the issue of reparations, property and claims with the countries concerned. That was the method that was generally accepted by the international community at the time.
  2. Specifically, Japan concluded the San Francisco Peace Treaty, bilateral peace treaties, agreements and instruments with countries concerned, and in accordance with them carried out payment of reparations and other items in good faith. In this way, issues of claims concerning the War have been legally settled with the countries of the parties to these treaties, agreements and instruments.

(Reference 1)
Examples of war reparations made pursuant to the San Francisco Peace Treaty

  • Reparations amounting to US$550 million (198 billion yen) were made to the Philippines, and US$39 million (14.04 billion yen) to Viet Nam.
  • Payment to the International Committee of the Red Cross to compensate prisoners of war (POW) of 4.5 million pounds sterling (approximately 4.54109 billion yen) was made.
  • Japan relinquished all overseas assets (approximately US$23.681 billion: approximately 379.499 billion yen)

(Reference 2)
Examples of war reparations made pursuant to individual peace treaties and other treaties

  • Reparations amounting to US$200 million (72 billion yen) were made to Burma, and US$223.08 million (80.3088 billion yen) to Indonesia.
  • Japan-Soviet Union Joint Declaration (1956)
    The Soviet Union waived its rights to reparations from Japan, and both Japan and the Soviet Union waived all reparations claims arising from war.

Q4: Although issues of reparations have been settled on a governmental level, are there not still outstanding issues concerning claims by individuals?

  1. At the end of the Second World War, Japan dealt collectively with the issue of reparations, properties and claims with the countries concerned, simultaneously dealing with personal claims at that time. For example, under the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, all claims of nationals of the Allied Powers and Japan to related countries and their nationals were waived.
  2. In this way, issues of claims by individuals have been legally settled with the parties to the San Francisco Peace Treaty, bilateral treaties, agreements and instruments.

(Reference 1)
San Francisco Peace Treaty

Article 14 (b) (Excerpt)

"Except as otherwise provided in the present Treaty, the Allied Powers waive all reparations claims of the Allied Powers, other claims of the Allied Powers and their nationals arising out of any actions taken by Japan and its nationals in the course of the prosecution of the war, and claims of the Allied Powers for direct military costs of occupation."

Article 19 (a)

"Japan waives all claims of Japan and its nationals against the Allied Powers and their nationals arising out of the war or out of actions taken because of the existence of a state of war, and waives all claims arising from the presence, operations or actions of forces or authorities of any of the Allied Powers in Japanese territory prior to the coming into force of the present Treaty."

Q5: What is the view of the Government of Japan concerning "wartime comfort women"?

  1. The Government of Japan recognizes that the issue known as wartime comfort women is one that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan has extended its sincere apologies and remorse to all those women known as wartime comfort women who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds.
  2. Although all issues of reparations, properties and claims arising from the war, including the issue of "wartime comfort women", have been legally settled, the Government of Japan has extended maximum cooperation to the Asian Women's Fund, which implements "medical and welfare support projects" and provides "atonement money," to offer realistic relief to former "comfort women" who are now advanced in years.

(Reference 1)
Overview of the activities of the Asian Women's Fund

  • In the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan where former comfort women have been identified by their governments and other bodies, the Asian Women's Fund has made payments of "atonement money" amounting to 2 million yen per person to each of the 285 former comfort woman and implemented medical and welfare support projects.
  • In the Netherlands, where the identification of former comfort women has not been implemented, the Asian Women's Fund has contributed an approximate total of 255 million yen over three years to the project to improve the living conditions of former comfort women implemented by Project Implementation Committee in the Netherlands (PICN), thus providing assistance to 79 recipients.
  • In Indonesia, where there are difficulties in designating former comfort women, in 1997 the Asian Women's Fund agreed to provide financial support amounting to 380 million yen over ten years, for a project to promote social welfare services for elderly people implemented by the Government of Indonesia. As of January 2005, 21 social welfare facilities have been established and 200 people are accommodated in those facilities.
  • As of January 2005, with the exception of Indonesia, the Asian Women's Fund had completed all of its "atonement projects" in various countries and regions and it announced that the fund would be dissolved in March 2007.

(Reference 2)
Excerpt from Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the result of the study on the issue of "comfort women" (August 4, 1993)

"As a result of the study which indicates that comfort stations were operated in extensive areas for long periods, it is apparent that there existed a great number of comfort women. Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women."

"Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously, while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment."

Q6: Is that true that Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine seek to justify Japan's colonial rule and aggression in the past?

  1. With regard to his visits to Yasukuni Shrine, Prime Minister Koizumi has stated that, "The purpose of my visit was to mourn sincerely all those who lost their lives for their country, leaving behind their families in spite of themselves, during the course of our country's history since the Meiji Restoration. I believe that the present peace and prosperity of Japan are founded on the priceless sacrifices made by many people who lost their lives in war. It is important that throughout the days to come we firmly adhere to the resolution to embrace peace and renounce war to ensure that we never resort to ragic war." It is clear from these words that his intention is not to justify Japan's colonial rule and aggression in the past.
  2. In the Statement on August 15,2005 and at the Asian-African Summit on April 22, 2005, Prime Minister Koizumi stated, "In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility. And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means."

Q7: There has been some criticism by foreign countries about Japanese history textbooks. How are the textbooks compiled?

  1. In Japan, textbooks are written and edited by private sector publishers and submitted for certification to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). MEXT examines whether the content of the book is appropriate as a textbook through deliberations at the council of experts.
  2. Textbooks must be in accordance with the Courses of Study which serves as an overall standard for school education. Based on this premise, the details of the contents and descriptions are left to the author.
  3. In particular, the process of certification of history textbooks is not conducted from the standpoint that the government chooses a particular point of view on history or establishing historical facts. MEXT basically points out any defects in descriptions by checking them in light of objective results of academic research and appropriate reference materials at the time of examination.
  4. In other words, during the textbook examination, opinions are expressed on a submitted textbook when obvious mistakes and/or extremely biased descriptions are detected in its contents. However, these opinions do not include any specific instructions for how the descriptions should be revised. In this regard, MEXT does neither modify the author's basic perception of history, nor demand that a specific historical event be covered in the textbook.
  5. Consequently, historical perceptions and the perspective of individual textbooks do not necessarily match those of the government.

Q8: What is the view of the Government of Japan on the incident known as the "Nanjing Massacre"?

  1. The Government of Japan believes that it cannot be denied that following the entrance of the Japanese Army into Nanjing in 1937, the killing of a large number of noncombatants, looting and other acts occurred.
  2. However, there are numerous theories as to the actual number of victims, and the Government of Japan believes it is difficult to determine which the correct number is.
  3. Japan candidly acknowledges that during a certain period in its history, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations, and holds a firm resolve to never repeat war again and to advance the path of a peaceful nation with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind.

Q9: What is the view of the Government of Japan on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE)?

  1. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) (also known as the Tokyo Trial) was a trial established by the Allied Powers after the Second World War to try Japanese Class A war criminals, where 28 people were prosecuted for charges, including crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. Of these, 25 were convicted, while the rest died of illness or were dismissed.
  2. The Government of Japan acknowledges that there are various arguments regarding this judgment. However, Japan has accepted the judgment of the IMTFE under Article 11 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Therefore, in state to state relationship, the Government of Japan believes that it is in no position to raise any objections regarding this judgment.

(Reference)
Article 11 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty

Japan accepts the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and of other Allied War Crimes Courts both within and outside Japan, and will carry out the sentences imposed thereby upon Japanese nationals imprisoned in Japan. The power to grant clemency, to reduce sentences and to parole with respect to such prisoners may not be exercised except on the decision of the Government or Governments which imposed the sentence in each instance, and on recommendation of Japan. In the case of persons sentenced by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, such power may not be exercised except on the decision of a majority of the Governments represented on the Tribunal, and on the recommendation of Japan.

  • (Source 11) International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) (also known as the Tokyo Trial)

Q10: Compared to Germany, are the measures taken by Japan on issues concerning its past insufficient?

  1. Japan and Germany have both dealt with their "history issues" in good faith.
  2. At the same time, the historical backgrounds of Germany and Japan differ completely, in terms of what happened during the Second World War and under what kind of postwar situation they engaged in postwar settlement. For example, Japan dealt collectively with the issue of reparations with the countries concerned in a manner that was generally accepted by the international community at the time, pursuant to the San Francisco Peace Treaty, treaties and instruments. On the other hand, the Government of Japan is aware that Germany took the approach of personal compensation as it could not deal collectively with countries concerning various issues including reparations as Japan did, since Germany was divided into East and West following the war.
  3. In this way, Japan and Germany have dealt with postwar settlement by different approaches. Therefore, it is not appropriate to make a simple comparison and evaluation of the measures taken by the two countries.