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[Editorial] Pride in suicide attacks?

Kamikaze is shameful legacy

There has come another episode illustrating Japan’s perverse and unashamed perception of its wartime wrongdoings: A Japanese town is seeking to include records of World War II kamikaze suicide pilots in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World Register.” We find this unthinkable, and we believe most people in the civilized world would, too.

The mayor of the town said he hopes that the 333 notes and letters left by the pilots will convey to the world the “importance of peace” and “wretchedness of war” by preserving and handing down the “messages of truth.”

The documents, kept at the Chiran Peace Museum in Minamikyushu, are part of more than 14,000 pieces of writing left by the ill-fated pilots.

Minamikyushu was home to a base for pilots who crashed their planes into allied warships toward the end of the war. That remains an outstanding symbol of Japan’s fanatical nationalism and exploitation of young soldiers. There has been historical proof that not a few kamikaze pilots participated in the mission against their will. Not to be ignored is that the 1,036 young pilots who lost their lives in the kamikaze operation included 11 Koreans.

It is not the first time that Japan’s central and local governments have sought international recognition of what others view as its shameful wartime history. In September last year, the Japanese government sought to list the Hashima Island that housed coal mines and other facilities where Koreans were forced into slave labor during the war as World Heritage sites. The city of Maizuru also plans to seek to include records about Japanese prisoners of war that had been detained in Siberia after the end of the war in the Memory of the World Register.

There are too many Japanese who do not have a minimum level of human conscience and judgment to tell the things to be proud of from those of which they should be ashamed. Perhaps we might have to expect to encounter many more such people unless the fanatical nationalist wind fanned by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is stopped.