by Marzia De Giuli
ROME, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII may mention Japan's wartime crimes, which Italian experts wish will be a clear apology and become a touchstone for future relations with neighbors China and South Korea.
According to media reports, however, the historical details may be narrated by Abe in a way that echoes his historical revisionist idea that Japan was forced to launch a "war of self-defense" instead of "aggression" in the past, in efforts to satisfy right-wing forces behind him.
"In fact, Japan's barbarities are globally known and have been ascertained by international courts," Natalino Ronzitti, an emeritus professor of international law at LUISS University in Rome and an advisory expert for the Rome-based Institute of International Affairs (IAI), told Xinhua on Wednesday.
"Historical memory is important in order to help progress and avoid that certain brutalities happen again," he stressed.
The 1995 statement of Tomiichi Murayama had gained world recognition because the then Japanese premier clearly stated that he felt deep remorse and offered a heartfelt apology for Japan's colonial rule and aggression. Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi repeated such expressions in his statement in 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII.
Many of the Sino-Japanese controversies at the present time, Ronzitti went on saying, derive from tragic historical facts including the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese aggressors captured the then China's capital and started 40-odd days of slaughter with over 300,000 people murdered, and Chinese comfort women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during WWII.
In his view, an international arbitration could help reconciliation between the two countries. But Abe's efforts to revise the Japanese pacifist constitution as well as his probable refusal to clearly address the theme of apology in the upcoming speech are not going in this direction, Ronzitti noted.
Davide Rossi, a historian and director of the Locarno-based ISPEC Institute of History and Philosophy of Contemporary Thought, noted that since many years ago the commercial exchange and economic ties between China and Japan have improved bilateral relations as well as the idea that public opinions of the two countries have about each other.
"All of this, however, does not erase the complexity of the 20th century, a century in which the Japanese expansionism was marked by a violent aggressiveness against all peoples of East Asia," Rossi underlined.
In his view, Japan's actions are characterized by an idea of "Japanese superiority" which has led the Asian nation "to be the natural ally of European fascism and to practice a form of authoritarian and particularly brutal imperialism."
"The dead, the massacres, the destroyed villages, torture, reduction in slavery of women and men from China and other Asian nations are a wound that Japanese governments have made amends for over the years, but that unfortunately Abe's nationalism is trying to elude," Rossi told Xinhua.
"I think it is crucial that China on Sept. 3 and South Korea on Aug. 15 want to properly mark the end of a terrible era. And it is evident that if Japan admitted its responsibility, this would be crucial to strengthening peace and cooperation with China," he stated.
Meanwhile, Italian rock band 7grani has dedicated a song titled Ragazza di Nanchino (Nanjing Girl) in remembrance of the Nanjing Massacre to raise awareness among young generations about genocides in history.
7grani is made up of three brothers -- Fabrizio, Mauro and Flavio Settegrani -- who identify strongly with topics related to WWII and the atrocities that the human race inflicted upon each other during that time.
"We were very affected by this extermination of thousands and thousands of Chinese people, which continues to remain largely forgotten," said Fabrizio, the lead singer of the band, in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"Our band wishes that Abe will apologize. This would be an important sign to give the right value to historical truth and re-put two important cultures in contact through an act of great political sensibility in the name of peace," Fabrizio said.