A story getting wide play today in Asia is the outrage that Angelina Jolie ‘ new film Unbroken is causing in Japan. There is apparently widespread anger over the graphic depiction of the wartime torture of Louis Zamperini. One Japanese historian has gone so far as to deny that Zamperini torture even took place.
To the extent to which this story is true, it saddens me and makes me fear for the future of Japan.
We must all look into the mirror. What determines the character of a people is less how it celebrates its triumphs than how it deals with its failures. As an American, I look in the mirror and see My Lai, Al Gharaib, Guantanamo, and water boarding. I don’t like looking, but I know that each poses a question about America that demands an answer from each of us. Do we sanction this being done in our names? If not, what shall we do?
Profound evil was committed in the name of the Japanese people in countless incidents between the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and the end of the war 14 years later. Forgetting an outrage merely because it is uncomfortable or happened decades ago only places the nation on a course to repeat history.
If we do not want history to judge us for our moral failings, we must beat history to the punch and do something while we still can.