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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 16 - 22  > Symposium held to use Pacific War ruins and structures to pass down history of Japan’s aggressive war to future generations
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2017 August 16 - 22 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Symposium held to use Pacific War ruins and structures to pass down history of Japan’s aggressive war to future generations

August 20 and 21, 2017
A citizens’ organization working for the preservation of Pacific War ruins on August 19 and 20 held its 21st national symposium in Kochi Prefecture and adopted an appeal calling for the full use of these properties for the promotion of peace education.

War ruins include buildings damaged by air strikes, munitions factories, military-related facilities, and air-raid shelters. There remain more than 50,000 such sites in Japan, according to the organization.

On the first day of the two-day symposium, the organization’s co-head, Jubishi Syumbu, who is a guest professor at Yamanashi Gakuin University, gave the keynote address. He said that although war ruins are essential materials for peace education and historical studies of the 20th century, many buildings are on the verge of collapse or facing precautionary destruction due to old age. These ruins and remaining structures deserve public protection under the government’s designated cultural properties program, but only 274 of the 50,000 war ruins are covered by the program, Jubishi pointed out.

Jubishi added that the preservation of war ruins should be in order to hand down the history of Japan’s acts of aggression to future generations, not to justify or glorify the past war.

At a workshop held on the second day, a male participant from Miyazaki Prefecture talked about the deceptive renaming of a monument in a prefectural park. The 36-meter-tall monument was built in 1940 when Imperial Japan was waging aggressive wars. The slogan “hachi-kou-ichi-u”, which means that the whole world should be ruled by Imperial Japan, was engraved on the monument. The slogan was used to justify Japan’s colonization of Asian countries. After the war, the monument was renamed the “peace monument”. The man criticized this renaming as an attempt to hide the initial intent of the monument.

In the closing session, an appeal was adopted. The appeal stresses that the preservation and utilization of war ruins should be aimed at promoting peace education. The appeal warns that many local authorities have renamed war ruins as “peace monuments” in a bid to cover up how these facilities contributed to the past wars of aggression. It states that an effort to pass down historical facts of Japan’s aggression to younger generations will help block the Abe government’s move to create a war-fighting country.
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