Don't forget dark days of war

Japan committed many atrocities during World War II that resulted in great suffering for our forefathers.

When it occupied Singapore from 1942 to 1945, thousands of civilians were killed and tortured. Food and medical supplies were scarce. Many children did not survive and many families were ruined.

Perhaps, with a sincere apology, Japan may be forgiven for such acts of war.

However, instead of reinforcing peace, and despite mass protests in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed a new security Bill which would allow Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defence, or defend a friendly country under attack ("Ex-Japanese PM slams Abe govt on security Bills"; July 24).

This is like rubbing salt in the wounds of those who suffered in the war.

A stark difference can be drawn between Germany's and Japan's reactions to the war.

The German Chancellor does not visit WWII memorial sites of war criminals, or ask for a bigger military budget. Germany's condemnation of its war crimes has enabled it to become a well-respected powerhouse.

Perhaps Japan should look to Germany, with regard to how it has acknowledged its wrongdoings during WWII.

Saturday will mark the 70th anniversary of the war's end. I hope Mr Abe will take the opportunity to express the nation's remorse and make an apology.

Many South-east Asian countries have economic ties with Japan. However, we should not forget those dark times that our forefathers suffered during the Occupation.

We should teach our young people this part of our history, and the reason why national service is so important.

David Kong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline 'Don't forget dark days of war'. Print Edition | Subscribe