Peace Treaties and Negotiations
"A Time for Peace and a Time for Justice...It is Now Time for a Just Peace"
-- 2001 Conference, 50 Years of Denial
San Francisco Peace Treaty
On 4 September, 1951, fifty one countries sent delegates to San Francisco, California to negotiate a treaty with Japan to settle finally remaining WW II issues from the Pacific. The result became the "San Francisco Peace Treaty," or "SFPT," which was signed on 8 September 1951 by 48 countries of the 51 attending. Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Soviet Union took part, but did not sign. India and Burma did not participate at all.
Today, more than six decades since the treaty and seventy-five years after the Rape of Nanjing, lingering unanswered questions block any sense of true peace and brotherhood among nations of the Pacific. Instead, Japanese intransigence and stubborn refusal to acknowledge and rectify their war crimes prevails.
From the very start, SFPT was mired in controversy, and remains so today. Neither the Republic of China (Taiwan) nor the People's Republic of China (mainland China) were invited to the San Francisco Peace Conference, and neither state was ever party to SFPT. Neither North nor South Korea was invited. In other words the primary victims of the atrocities committed by Japanese Imperial Armed Forces had no place at the table and no voice in the treaty debate.
A Treaty with Taiwan and an Agreement with the Philippines
The Republic of China (Taiwan) concluded a separate Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1952, (known as the "Taipei Peace Treaty", TPT) without representation or participation by the People's Republic of China (mainland China). The Philippines, objecting to any firm promise of war reparation from Japan, ratified the San Francisco Treaty on July 16, 1956, after the signing a separate agreement with Japan in May of that year. Indonesia signed but did not ratify the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Instead, a Phillipines-Japan bilateral reparations agreement and peace treaty was executed 20 January 1958.
Japan had annexed and occupied Formosa (Taiwan) since 1895 by the terms of a treaty ending the first China-Japan war. In 1910 Japan invaded, annexed, and occupied Korea. During the Pacific War, 1931-45, Japan had conscripted native Formosans to serve in the Japanese Imperial Army, much to their disgust. Japan went so far as to move the bodies and artifacts of Formosans killed in the war to Japan, where they were placed in the infamous Japanese military shrine at Yasukuni. Native Formosans have ever since demanded return of their remains, demonstrating loudly at Yasukuni, "We are not Japanese."
A joint statement by Chinese and Japanese governments
The 1952 TPT, and the 1972 Joint Communique (JC) between China and Japan that restored diplomatic relations between the two countries, explicitly recognizing the Peoples Republic of China as representing all of China, are in conflict. Since the 1972 JC is the later agreement, the 1952 TPT became invalid after 1972. In any case, at the time TPT was signed it had limited application. As defined in an official exchange document attached to the Treaty, TPT could only apply to territory actually controlled by the Republic of China then and in the future. Therefore TPT has established itself as not applicable to the People’s Republic of China. Arguing that TPT speaks for the whole of the Chinese people is factually incorrect.
Japan's hesitancy to embrace the truth of history is amply demonstrated in textbook controversies of the 1980s and 1990s. Japan has yet to come to grips with an honest account of its role in perpetrating the greatest human catastrophe of the twentieth century, and has instead certified history textbooks for Japanese schools that inaccurately report the Pacific War.
Japan's Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa (leader of the first non-LDP government of Japan since 1955) is famous for his "apology" of 1993, in which he publicly acknowledged that WW II was a "war of aggression, a mistaken war," and expressed sincere condolences to "the war victims and survivors, in Japan, its Asian neighbors, and the rest of the world." Mr. Hosokawa did not last long in government. He was ousted in 1995, and went on to become a founder of the DPJ, the party that wrested government control finally from the LDP.
The Marco Polo Bridge Statement and Aftereffects
In 1995, at a ceremony in Beijing at the Marco Polo Bridge (scene of the Japanese Army attack in China in 1936), Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama expressed publicly his personal feelings of remorse and apology to victims of Japan's aggressive war. However, Murayama's apology was only a personal one, not shared by the majority of his colleagues in the Japanese government. He failed to make a formal and official apology in the so-called "No War Resolution." In the Japanese Diet, only 26% of the members supported the Resolution and 47% were opposed.
A Japanese national campaign against the "No War Resolution" began by ex-education minister Seisuke Okuno collected 4.5 million signatures. Indeed, Murayama's personal statement cannot extend to the government of Japan or Japan's Imperial Armed Forces because the Diet rejected the Murayama statement upon his return to Japan.
This brings up the "apologies" of Junichiro Koizumi and of Emperor Akihito. After his expression of personal sorrow over Japan's WW II aggression in 2005, Koizumi conducted yet another state visit to Yasukuni to worship the memory of 14 convicted and executed Class A Japanese war criminals, nullifying any good will that might have accrued to Japan. Emperor Akihito chose a different style. Noting that Asians "suffered horribly" during the Pacific War, he, Akihito, expressed his personal sorrow over their plight, sidestepping responsibility for either himself or his country.
Rights of Individuals and Individual Claims for Repayment from Japan
Even if SFPT, TPT, and JC sought to absolve Japan of war reparations to other countries, nothing yet has either waived or extinguished individual rights to claims against Japanese citizens, corporations, or governments. But Japan has never accepted the "burdens" of reparations, but has resisted them vigorously through the courts.
The 1972 JC remains effective. In JC the Chinese government did not abandon the right to claim of Chinese citizens on their behalf or of the right of Chinese citizens to a right to a claim against Japan themselves. Former slaves of Japanese Corporations and their bereaved families began suing the Japanese Nishimatsu Corporation in the 1990s for unpaid wages. Allied POWs who became slaves to corporations in Japan during the war have similarly brought lawsuits in Japan and elsewhere, and waged a steady campaign for public opinion. Nishimatsu and other Japanese corporations pocketed huge profits during the war from the blood and lives of Chinese slaves. These same corporations have steadfastly maintained they owe nothing.
But with the understanding in JC, the first and second instance rulings by District Courts or High Courts in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Niigata, Hiroshima in the Nishimatsu case did not support the Japanese government’s position of "the abandonment of the Chinese victims’ right to a claim." (The only exception was the ruling of the Tokyo High Court on March 18, 2005, which supported for the first time the Japanese government’s position of "abandonment of Chinese victims’ right to claim" in the so-called "comfort women" cases. This verdict itself by the Tokyo High Court violated legal precedent and was a provocative aberration, which led to widespread public protest and demonstrations.)
In the Chinese view, JC did not give up the Chinese nationals’ individual rights to a claim for compensation from Japan. Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in 1995 clearly stated, "The Joint Communique abandoned the right to claim of the state, but the right to claim of the individual has not been abandoned.”
In 1972 when China and Japan restored diplomatic relations, a precondition was that the Japanese government agreed there was only one China. Only under this precondition were diplomatic relations of the two countries restored and JC signed. Article 2 of JC states, "The Government of Japan recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate Government of China." Using TPT as an argument in any issue of claim by Chinese citizens, or indeed any individual seeking redress, violates Japan's own position defined in JC.
(Waffling about the slave labor issue and lying about its history ultimately destroyed the LDP Japanese government reign of Prime Minister Taro Aso, scion of the Aso family and their extensive mining operations supported by slave labor during the war.)
In 2007, Rep. Michael Honda, a Japanese-American representing a district in Northern California, introduced HR 121 that demanded an apology from the Japanese government for the forced sex slavery of Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and Indonesian girls and young women. After much debate, the measure was passed by the US House of Representatives. The government of Japan lobbied vigorously against HR 121, in a bald-faced attempt to justify sex slavery and to stifle debate on human rights. In this way does the Japanese government express remorse.
The world still awaits honest and forthright clarification from Japan.