Dealing with World War II

As a German I keep reading discussions (or taking part in them myself) on how my country is/was dealing with WW II. One of the complaints I hear most is the call to forget, to not resume talking about painful issues. People specifically complain about the fact that the issue of guilt is too often pressed. The fact that the following, from Japan (well, from the Guardian, actually), is not likely to happen here is why I kind of like painful issues and guilt. Seeing how some Germans talk about WWII I am happy that some sort of collective feeling of guilt is preventing hot water like this from boiling here.

Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe has won a major court battle over a book he wrote more than 30 years ago detailing how Japanese soldiers persuaded and sometimes forced Okinawan civilians to commit suicide rather than give themselves up in the closing days of the second world war.


The ruling was also a high-profile setback for a vocal lobby among Japanese conservatives who have long sought to discredit or censure material documenting Japanese excesses during the war, including government-supported prostitution, the rape of the Chinese city of Nanking and other incidents.


The plaintiffs, who were expected to appeal, filed the suit after discovering school texts portrayed the military as responsible for the Okinawa suicides, their lawyer Shinichi Tokunaga said. They made their claim amid a conservative-led movement backed by hawkish Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his successor, Shinzo Abe, to “soften” textbook accounts of wartime atrocities, or to deny any involvement in them by Japanese troops.

A government decision two years ago to delete textbook references to the Japanese military role in the forced suicides brought the issue to a boil on Okinawa, culminating in a protest by more than 100,000 people in September last year.