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It remains a crowning shame to mankind that the 107 survivors of the appalling carnage conducted by Tokyo in 1937 in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing may never live to get their deserved official apology from the island country, even 79 years after it was defeated in World War II.
But their excruciating fate and that of other 300,000 innocent lives slaughtered by Japan merely in that one Chinese city still trigger cries for justice in and out of China. Upon the arrival of the third National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims on Tuesday, local authorities and multinational institutions released a trove of new information and historical evidences confirming Japan's undeniable atrocities.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's response, to the outrage of all, has been merely "deep remorse." In his speech to the U.S. Congress last year and his announcement last week to pay a "reconciliatory" visit to Pearl Harbor, he again declined to issue an unequivocal apology even to the victims of Japan's most important post-war ally.
Although this rightist politician has been given to understatements on historical issues, it is alarmingly familiar to see him claim Japan a trustworthy "peacemaker" on one hand, and buck for the erasion of the country's war shame and the boosting of its military expansion on the other.
Knowing such maneuvers may hurt his "peace-making" credibility and ratchet up the chances of conflict, Abe increased his hostility with various shenanigans toward China, a country victimized by Japan's brutality 70 years ago and scapegoated now for the island's tepid recovery and the region's raging instability.
And due to the absence -- or at least the lack -- of timely and collective responses of the international community to Abe's historical revisionism and denialism, massive efforts to seek righteousness have been squandered, and numerous rumors spawned, repeatedly racking the nerves of the victims and their families.
No matter how much he wants to shake Japan off its historical duty and "normalize" the nation, Abe bears an inescapable responsibility to apologize. Other parties that once fought together to defeat fascism should also have done a better job to wrest an apology from Japan and help secure the hard-won post-war order.
No excuses or calculation for selfish interests should be put before the lives of the 300,000 Nanjing victims. Compromises over the identified historical truth for whatever reasons are implausible offenses to the dead and the living. The blood and tears shed 79 years ago are just way too poignant to tolerate any distortion or denial of history.
The 300,000 lives deserve no less.