Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Yasukuni Issue--The Importance of Respect for Victim Psychology
TAKAI Nobuo / Lawyer

February 28, 2006
I am fairly confident that I am in a position to know better than other Japanese the Chinese way of thinking and behavior pattern, as I have been running a law firm in Shanghai for the last six and a half years. In that position and on the basis of my 40-year experience as a lawyer, I would like to state my views on the "Yasukuni issue".

Japan's aggression against China during the Japan-China war is an undeniable historic fact. In the process of Japan's occupation of China, Japan caused heavy damage to China and the Chinese people.

For lawyers handling criminal cases, what is most difficult is to gauge the depth of pain and suffering of the victims, which, after all, is only personally felt. Take assault, for example. The lawyers must understand the qualitative difference in the emotions surrounding the assault between the attackers and victims. Attackers tend soon to forget the pain they have inflicted on the victim. But even when the attackers have been punished for their crime and compensated their victims in civil suits, the victims never forget the pain they have suffered as long as they live.

In this connection, I must point out that the Japanese legal system has until now paid little consideration to the sentiment of the crime victim. In fact, it is only very recently that Japanese law started to heed the victim's sentiment. To be specific, in 2000 the Criminal Procedure Law was revised to stipulate that victims may state their opinions.

I believe that the reason why Japanese society has traditionally made light of victims' sentiment is because we value collectivism. Collectivism is based on the idea that the members of a group should get along with each other well and not make waves. Therefore, even when there is an embarrassing issue, we tend to try to forget it as soon as possible. In other words, maintaining harmony within the group has been given high priority in our society.

But even Japanese society is now beginning to shift its values from groups to individuals, emphasizing what and how each person thinks and feels. We now are constrained to acknowledge the sentiment of victims in a variety of situations.

In addressing the Yasukuni issue, above anything else, it is required of the Japanese side to bear in mind the Chinese sense of victimization. In this sense, the Yasukuni issue is an international one as long as the Shrine enshrines, among Japan's war dead, the A-class war criminals who are responsible for the Japanese aggression in China. The very stance of some of the Japanese politicians who try to treat it as a domestic issue defies the victim psychology of the Chinese people. Nor is it in conformity with present trends of global society.

To lay the groundwork for long-lasting relations of peace between Japan and China, Japan needs to develop a policy that would enable it to atone for the Chinese memories of victimization by the Japanese during the last war. It should also take concrete measures to back up this policy, while making various efforts to enlarge areas of agreement between the two countries.

I would, at the same time, like to remind the Chinese side that anti-Chinese sentiment is growing among the Japanese public due to the Chinese government's intense criticism of Japan over this problem. It would be wise for China to refrain from speech and actions that could be interpreted by the Japanese as overbearing, when Japan is relatively declining vis-a-vis China which is registering an overwhelming economic rise. Sooner or later, Chinese companies are expected to bid to take over Japanese companies on a large scale. When that time comes, such Chinese bids are likely to fail, if most Japanese people harbor anti-Chinese feelings.

China's presence in Asia and its influence over Asian countries are steadily growing. The Japanese leaders should realize that Japan may eventually alienate not only China but also other Asian nations which are constrained to show consideration to China's intentions, so long as this symbolic discord over Yasukuni issue stands in the way.

The writer is Lawyer. He contributed this article to the Asahi Shimbun on February 16.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

高井伸夫 / 弁護士

2006年 2月 28日
私は6年半前から上海にも法律事務所を開設しており、中国人の考え方や行動パター ンを他の人よりも承知している者として、また40年以上にわたって法律家としての仕事に携わってきた者として「靖国問題」について意見を述べたい。








中国側にも意識して欲しいことがある。それは、この問題を巡る中国政府の猛烈な抗議及び日本批判によって、日本国民に反中意識が生まれていることである。経済的に中国が圧倒的に上り調子である一方で、日本は衰退しつつあるという状況の中で、中国の力が日本に威圧 として受け取られるような言動は控えた方が将来的に得策であろう。例えば、中国企業が日本企業を大々的に買収する時代が早晩到来するが、そのとき、日本人の大勢が反中感情を抱いていると、買収が順調に成功するとは思えないからである。


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