- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

Tokyo war-crimes trials

Wednesday was the 60th anniversary of the start of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, commonly called the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. The proceedings tried more than two dozen Japanese World War II leaders.

The 14 wartime leaders convicted at the Tokyo Trials are the Class-A war criminals often cited in debate over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

In recent years, Mr. Koizumi’s controversial visits have led to questions about the legitimacy of the war crimes tribunal.

While it is fine to conduct a historical debate of the problems with the trial, no responsible politician should engage in fruitless arguments over the legitimacy of the war crimes tribunal, clouding the issue with current political problems. Denying the Tokyo Trials’ legitimacy does not free Japan from its responsibility for its past actions.

A recent Asahi Shimbun poll produced some shocking findings. About 70 percent of the respondents, and 90 percent of those in their 20s, said they know nothing about the Tokyo Trials. And significantly, the survey also showed that people with little knowledge about the war crimes tribunal and the war in general tend to be more supportive of the current state of Yasukuni Shrine.

It is impossible to judge the past without accurate knowledge of history. The 60th anniversary of the Tokyo Trials is a good opportunity for us all to ponder the importance of facing up to our past.

Financial Times

Widening the EU is working

The political ramifications of the European Union’s expansion to the east have been far-reaching: for enlargement was one of the reasons behind the drafting of a new constitution and one of the reasons why that constitution went down to referendum defeats last year in France and the Netherlands [where voters feared job competition from the East]. But enlargement has proved a solid economic success, according to a report published by the European Commission two years after eight East European countries plus Cyprus and Malta joined the Union.

Naturally, enlargement’s benefits are bigger for the new EU-10 — which represent less than 5 per cent of total EU gross domestic product — because its impact on them is so much larger. The newcomers have all seen their national income, trade and inward investment accelerate, as one would expect. But this has not been at the expense of the older member states, whose fears, says the commission, are “not justified.” The EU executive finds little overall evidence of jobs being moved east and is generally dismissive of the argument that lower tax rates in the East are distorting investment within the EU. …

This report ought to help governments, especially among the EU-15, recover a sense of nerve and balance about further enlargement. The next entrants will be Romania and Bulgaria, though there are doubts about the latter’s ability to combat organized crime. Meanwhile, negotiations have started with Croatia and Turkey that might lead to eventual membership that might also include remaining states of the western Balkans.

La Repubblica

Security Council acts on Darfur

ROME — Not even Osama bin Laden’s nonsense can wake up the U.N. Security Council, though it has done all it could: It condemned the civil war in Darfur, Sudan … and on Tuesday, it adopted sanctions against four persons involved in the massacres. It is not allowed to do more by the two friends of Khartoum: China, which relies upon Sudanese oil, and Russia that sells weapons to Khartoum. …

Nevertheless, the United Nations had laid the premises for a change: its commission had identified the serious violations of human rights, committed mainly by Khartoum, and those responsible. … And surprisingly, the Council then accepted the request to defer the issue to the International Criminal Tribunal. But this is where it all went aground. Twelve months have passed, and the chief prosecutor has still not asked Khartoum to allow investigations in Sudan. Truly a wasted occasion.

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