- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

Wrong on Japanese textbooks

Columnist Paul Greenberg showed little understanding of the issue of Japanese textbooks or how squarely Japan faces its past in his column “The Nanking ‘incident’ flap” (Commentary, April 30).

It is an undeniable fact that many Chinese people were killed by the Japanese army in Nanjing in 1937, and all the 26 authorized textbooks used in Japan refer to “the Nanjing massacre” or “the Nanjing Incident.”

Your readers should know that in Japan, an independent board examines textbooks only for objective errors, unlike government-sanctioned textbooks in some countries, and thus authorized textbooks do not represent any specific government perspective on history. Moreover, because there is no solid designation of this incident, there exists a variety of terms employed to reference the occurrence. It is, therefore, off the mark to criticize Japan’s perception on history by referring to the fact that some textbooks use the term “Nanjing incident.”

Further, Japan has fully faced its past, including its atrocities and aggression, in numerous official statements, most recently reiterated by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on April 22 at the Asian American Summit: “And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind … Japan once again states its resolve to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world.” This recognition on Japan’s part was clearly addressed by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995, as well. The Ministry of Education courses of study also seek to promote the teaching of historical facts on Japan’s actions before World War II, which led to that human calamity, and during the war.

Japan has amply demonstrated its repentance through its actions, although Mr. Greenberg neglects these efforts. It has renounced war as an option and chosen the path toward peaceful democracy.

Japan also has achieved economic development, upon which it has provided comprehensive assistance to the world. Moreover, Japan resolved issues on compensation, assets and claims comprehensively through the San Francisco Peace Treaty and other bilateral peace and related treaties with other countries.

Given the above, the columnist’s claim of Japan’s moral amnesia is unsupported by the facts.

MITSURU KITANO

Minister for public affairs

Embassy of Japan

Washington

‘Gloom-and-doom’ environmentalism

Your April 24 article correctly notes that the old gloom-and-doom environmentalist movement is losing steam (“Environmentalists seek to revive cause,” Nation), but the movement’s decline is not because of bad PR. Nor is it the result of a “right-wing ideological political” effort.

The simple fact is, the environment is improving. Air pollution has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. Wildlife is thriving. The bald eagle can finally be taken off the Endangered Species List.

Forestland in the eastern half of the United States is increasing at a net rate of 1 million acres a year. And after three centuries of decline, wetlands are making a rapid comeback.

According to a recent Harris poll, 71 percent of Americans are “happy” with the quality of the environment where they live. Our country is making incredible strides toward a cleaner environment today. Perhaps certain radical activists — who have built careers on fear tactics — can’t see the sunshine. But it’s not because the air isn’t clean enough.

SALLY C. PIPES

President and CEO

Pacific Research Institute

San Francisco

On illegals, bishops miss the point

In view of the many biblical admonitions to help those in need, it is no surprise that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops advocates increasing aid and leniency for the illegal aliens among us seeking to improve their lot in life (“Bishops back aid to immigrants,” Nation, Wednesday).

What is surprising, however, is the omission of similar concerns and activism in confronting the root of the problem in the predominately Catholic countries the illegals are coming from. Without enumerating several key causes of poverty in Mexico and other Latin countries to our south, it is clear that the predominance of the Catholic Church in these countries makes it a major factor in the historical persistence of poverty there.

We in the United States have done and will continue to do more to help the economically deprived. Open borders and policies that are incentives for more illegals only exacerbate the problem.

In addition to national-security concerns, the problems illegals are creating for U.S. citizens and legal aliens are numerous and rapidly increasing. The constitutional right to equality under the law is no longer sacrosanct.

Owing to the census, which includes illegals, California may have acquired more congressional representatives than it would have otherwise. That this occurred at the expense of states with higher proportions of legal residents is an issue with major implications. Every day, the feeling grows that we Americans are no longer masters of our own domains. As a result, so, too, grow the anti-illegal-immigrant sentiments.

Americans are a generous and caring people. We are spending blood and treasure in behalf of less fortunate people who in a generation or two will likely discount the enormous U.S. sacrifices.

Yet we persist and do it again, as we are fortunate enough to have the means to do so. Americans want to support efforts to alleviate the plight of illegals from our southern neighbors. But these efforts must deal with the causes of the problem at the origin and not just the symptoms here in the United States. The influence and resources of the Catholic Church need to be directed accordingly.

JACK BATLUK

Tracys Landing, Md.

Virginia Democrats and burgeoning

The slate of activist Democratic candidates profiled in your article on the upcoming primary battle in the 45th District of Virginia (“6 Democrats vying in 45th District,” Metropolitan, May 9) was actually a story of the tragedy faced by middle-class taxpayers of the region who struggle to pay their real-estate-tax bills, and the inability of the candidates themselves to hear the cries of citizen outrage about local government budgets, which in Alexandria have grown at a double-digit rate over the past five years.

All the candidates expressed a strong desire to enact progressive agendas that would require increased funding (code for raising taxes — again), and the need to educate the electorate that such programs are not free. Believe me when I say that the taxpayers of Alexandria are reminded of this civics lesson every spring when their property-tax bill lands in their mailbox.

Alexandria property owners are expected to pay and pay and pay for the projects detailed in escalating local government budgets at a pace that far exceeds the rate of inflation. Elected officials tell us these increases are necessary for the quality of life in our region; in actuality, their actions have lowered an individual resident’s standard of living by forcing them to choose between holding onto their homes or tightening their belts and cutting the frequency and quality of pleasurable activities they choose to pursue.

The sacrifices made to accommodate voracious government budgets affect the businesses in our community through fewer meals enjoyed in restaurants, making do with the clothes in our closets and cutting charitable contributions.

At the same time, we see new departments created within our governments (a superintendent of bike paths stands out in my memory)..

I realize that the profiled Democratic candidates are running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, but as the late Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill wisely stated, all politics is local. They would do well to heed a mounting roar of indignation to taxation that exceeds the rate of inflation. This was recently expressed in Alexandria Council chambers when angry citizens occupied the public benches wearing red stickers promoting a compromise 3 percent budget increase.

Rattled members of the council chose to ignore the pleas of the electorate and passed an 8 percent budget increase, and now red bumper stickers have begun to appear on cars promising retribution at the ballot box in May 2006. Delegate Mark Sickles, Alexandria Democrat, said that whoever wins the June 14 primary “is a slam-dunk” on Nov. 8.

He may very well be correct in his prediction, but like many Alexandrians who hold their nose while performing their moral duty to vote, I will also be saying a thankful prayer that leaders elected by our more conservative counties will counter the budgetary ambitions of the individual who is eventually elected to represent the 45th District.

JOHN LOOMIS

Alexandria

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