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What did Hatoyama's kneeling imply?

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

08-19-2015 15:38 BJT

By Zhang Yong, associate researcher with Japan Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, secretary-general of China-Japan Relation Research Center

Japan's former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama knelt in front of a memorial stone unexpectedly during his visit to the Seodaemun Prison History Hall in Seoul, South Korea on Aug 12, 2015, offering his apology for cruel atrocities that occurred during Japanese colonial rule. What did Hatoyama's kneeling imply?

Well, it is a sincere reflection based on a correct perspective of history.

Born into a political dynasty, Yukio Hatoyama was the 93rd prime minister of Japan. Japanese prime ministers are divided into two types: One group holds the wrong historical view, such as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while the other holds a correct view of history, such as Yukio Hatoyama who believes Japan should admit its former military aggression and offer an apology from the heart.

Hatoyama visited South Korea before the Abe Statement was announced. He knelt in front of the memorial stone that requires taking accountability, wisdom and courage, which has a positive meaning for relations between Japan and South Korea. The South Korean people and the media felt deeply impressed; claiming that over 50 million South Koreans have become Hatoyama's fans.

Additionally Hatoyama practices "friendly politics."

Hatoyama has abided by two basic principles: One is the correct perspective of history. The other is the "friendly politics" Initiative. Hatoyama thought that friendship should stand as the compass to determine political directions, serving as a standard for policy-making and the spiritual pillars of the times for "self-reliance and coexistence." Hatoyama's "friendly politics" concept stands in sharp contrast to Abe's "exclusiveness" idealism.

In dealing with relations with neighbor countries, Hatoyama has emphasized the mutual respect of diversified values and has sought common interests. He is devoted to establish trust relationships and to promote long-term friendly cooperation.

When Yoshihiko Noda's government decided to "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands in September 2012, the Sino-Japanese relationship had encountered a dire situation. Similar to kneeling in front of a memorial stone, Hatoyama also visited the Nanjing Massacre Memorial in China and said Japan should be held responsible for its brutality.

The Abe government should learn from Hatoyama

The Abe government should learn from Hatoyama who saved Japan's face with his actions. However, Hatoyama belongs to the "minority" in Japanese political circles, his proposition cannot become mainstream in the near future.

The Japanese cabinet passed the Abe statement on August 14.; however four key words ("aggression", "colonial governance", "reflections" "apology") were excluded. Accordingly, this statement lacks sincere "reflections" without much description of problems. The statement appears to be the outcome of the Abe government's "opportunism", aiming to sweep obstacles away to support his new security bills and to achieve the goal of "getting rid of a postwar system."

If Japan keeps associating with distant countries in order to attack its neighbors, the country will become more of an "isolated island" in East Asia. Only through support of peaceful development and adherence to good neighborliness with a heart-felt apology could that be the best commemoration to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Hopefully, the Abe government can meet neighbor countries halfway to maintain stable relations with concrete actions.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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