To its credit, Japan did officially apologize for its colonial past several times, including at the level of the Japanese Emperor and Prime Minister. In fact, especially in the 1990s, Japanese Prime Minister Hosokawa and his successor Murayama both apologized pretty sincerely, acknowledging Japanese Imperialism to be “invasions”.So the Korean definitely was not surprised when a Japanese general said Japan was not the "aggressor nation" in World War II.
Problem is that unlike Germany, Japan somehow has trouble maintaining that party line. Each time there is an apology from Japan, there are two Japanese politicians who say such things as “the Imperial Japan in fact did a lot of good to Korea, like modernizing it.”
Source: Here.JAPAN was not the aggressor in World War II, according to the country's air force chief.The essay was authored by General Toshio Tamogami, chief of staff of Japan's Air Self-Defence Force, and won the top award in an inaugural contest aimed at describing "true views of modern history".
"Even now, there are many people who think that our country's 'aggression' caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War," said the English-language version of the essay.
"But we need to realise that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War.
"In Thailand, Burma, India, Singapore, and Indonesia, the Japan that fought the Greater East Asia War is held in high esteem.
"It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation."
The Greater East Asia War was a term used by Japan to describe the conflict in the Asia-Pacific theatre, emphasising that it involved Asian nations seeking independence from the Western powers.
The essay, entitled "Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?", was posted on the website of a Japanese hotel chain which organised the contest.
The Korean will give Japanese military kudos for this: they did have the decency to fire this guy. But consider the audacity of this statement. And the fact that there was an essay contest that elicited this type of answer!
Despite the passion with which Koreans hate Japan at the moment, the Korean really believes that Korean people will move on when the Japanese government officially apologizes AND stick to it on all levels. Really, Koreans are like that -- they are passionate people who get very excited easily and move on just as quickly.
Also see ROK Drop's interesting write up on this issue, touching upon the issue of Yasukuni shrine. A quick summary quote from the post:
One theme I have picked up on at the [Yasukuni shrine's WWII] museum is that every attack the Japanese conducted was only executed because of foreign colonizers threatening Japan and its neighbors. Japan never wanted to colonize any country, they just wanted to liberate Asians from foreigners. This is of course nonsense.Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.