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Australian Prime Minister's Praise of Japanese Troops Are Harshly Criticized

"We admire the skills of these Japanese soldiers and the sense of honor during task completion. Even though I do not endorse what they have done, we could probably feel from the bottom of heart at that moment that the fiercest enemies might be our best friends."

On July 8, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott made these comments publicly to praise "the skills and sense of honor" manifested during the 1942 assault on Sydney Harbor by Japanese Submarine Forces,when delivering welcome speech to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Australian federal parliament. Abbott’s irresponsible comments initiated criticism and condemnations from all walks of life in Australia.

Australian Prime Minister's Praise of Japanese Troops Are Harshly Criticized

Photo taken on Jul 8 shows Chinese and Korean people in Canberra protesting Abe's visit to Australia and Abbott's welcome delivered.(

During World War Two, the Japanese once massacred numerous Australian people and surrendered soldiers. More strikingly, the Japanese captured around 22,000 Australian military officers and soldiers, who lost their lives as the Japanese Forces conducted gas and virus tests on living bodies. Against Abbott’s absurd praise of the Japanese Forces, many Australian World War II veterans who once fought against Japan expressed their extreme resentment.

The Australian Veterans Association declared that Australian World War II veterans could not agree with Abbott’s mistaken comments. Don Rowe, the president of this association and a rear admiral said:" A great number of Australian World War II veterans devoted to fighting against Japan could not agree with Abbott’s evaluation and description of Japanese Forces at all. The atrocity carried out by Japanese troops was totally irrelevant to ‘the sense of honor’. We would only have respect for the courageous people combating the Japanese Forces." In addition, Don has also mentioned the crimes conducted by the Japanese in China, saying the Nanjing Massacre was the darkest scene in the whole World War II.

Australian Prime Minister's Praise of Japanese Troops Are Harshly Criticized

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

(Source:People's Daily)

The Sydney Harbor mentioned in Abbott’s speech is located in New South Wales. According to Rowell, the NSW president of the Australian Veterans Association, after Abbott’s speech, he has received many phone calls from relatives of Australian veterans once fighting against Japan, who were very angry and resented what Abbott said. Rowell said to journalists that the Veteran Club in New South Wales was very disappointed by Abbott’s comments as well. It was impossible to link the sense of honor to the way the Japanese Forces treated Australian war prisoners or citizens. The Japanese forced them into hard labor, tortured them wilfully, starved and even killed them. "The sense of honor" used in Abbott’s speech was an obviously wrong expression beyond doubt.

According to Griffis, a 92-year-old Australian veteran, he has never felt the so-called "sense of honor" of Japanese Forces. Abbott’s comments have gone too far and this was "too frivolous" for a statesman. Griffis said," Japanese Forces were brutal man-eaters. I saw some Japanese solders cutting down dead Australian solders’ arms for food. Japan wishes to forget about the past, but for those who have gone through all of the tragedies, we cannot simply let the past go."

The Age in Melbourne published some readers’ letters to rebuke the improper comments of Abbott. One reader from Sydney said in his letter, "I am not sure whether Abbott really understands how Australian solders and citizens suffered in World War II. The Japanese government has never really repented for its war crimes and it even wanted to deny the fact of comfort women as it opposed the building of a monument for comfort women. Abbott should realize the seriousness of the problem. Another reader from Melbourne wrote in his letter," How could Abbott give Japanese Forces honors? My nephew was killed by them in 1941. I have no admiration for them at all. What I could feel inside were completely anger and grief."

Moreover, Abbott’s "excessive intimacy" with Japan in the military field is also questioned by many politicians in Australia.

Robert John Carr, former Australian Foreign Minister, raised strong doubts about the foreign policies of the Abbott government, especially opposing Abbott’s support for the Abe Administration to ease the restrictions on the right of collective self-defense. Carr believes that, in order to benefit the national interests of Australia, the two countries should focus on the development of financial and commercial ties, while it is not proper for Australia to conclude any form of security agreements with Japan. Australian government is supposed to keep neutral in Sino-Japanese territorial disputes.

Australian senator Sam Dastyari indicated that, for whatever concerns, economics, security or geopolitics, being involved into territorial disputes in Asia was against Australia’s national interests. However, what Abbott did was more and more a signal that Australia had chosen a line, which might bring extreme loss to Australia’s economy and trade. Nike Champion, a Representative of Federal Parliament from South Australia, also warned Abbott to avoid letting Australia get entangled in historical problems and territorial disputes in Asia.

Contributed by Li Jiabin/ Guangming Daily

Translated by Zheng Yi

[ Editor: Sadie ]