Jallianwala: British reluctance to apologise Chinese lesson for India

China, in contrast to India's dealings with Britain vis-à-vis Jallianwala, insists on getting an apology from every visiting dignitary from Japan for the war-time atrocities committed by the former Asian imperial force

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed regret over the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Theresa said in Parliament on Wednesday that she was deeply saddened by the incident and the misery caused by it.

However, the prime minister of the United Kingdom did not apologise for the genocide. The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbin, demanded of Theresa a clear and detailed apology, but she did not oblige.

The Jallianwalla Bagh in 1919, months after the massacre

Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron (tenure: 2010 to 2016) had said it was a very embarrassing event in the history of the British rule in India when he visited the country in 2013.

However, even Cameron had not apologised for Jallianwala and more.

This Saturday is the hundredth anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh scandal.

Punjab Assembly resolution on Jallianwala massacre

Jallianwala Bagh well
The Martyrs’ Well, at Jallianwala Bagh. 120 bodies were recovered from this well as per inscription on it.

In February this year, the government of the Indian State of Punjab had passed a resolution unanimously in the Assembly demanding a British government apology for the genocide. The central government was told that they better pressure the British government to apologise.

More than a thousand people were killed in the police action of indiscriminate firing at peaceful demonstrators in the Jallianwala Bagh in 1919.

On 13 April that year, the British admit their soldiers killed more than 400 protesters with unprovoked firing even as scores of people jumped to death, plunging into a dry well in the park to escape the shower of bullets. However, Indian officials say that more than 1,000 people were killed in the atrocious incident. Many of the victims were women and children.


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Difference between India and China

In contrast, since the 1970s, China has made it a point to get an apology from every visiting dignitary of Japan for the war-time atrocities committed by the imperial force of Asia. Some of the many examples follow.

In 1970, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka addressed the people of China thus: “The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself. Further, the Japanese side reaffirms its position that it intends to realize the normalization of relations between the two countries from the stand of fully understanding ‘the three principles for the restoration of relations’ put forward by the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese side expresses its welcome for this.”

In 1982, chief cabinet secretary Kiichi Miyazawa issued a statement addressing the Chinese people, “The Japanese Government and the Japanese people are deeply aware of the fact that acts by our country in the past caused tremendous suffering and damage to the peoples of Asian countries, including the Republic of Korea (ROK) and China, and have followed the path of a pacifist state with remorse and determination that such acts must never be repeated. Japan has recognized, in the Japan-ROK Joint Communique, of 1965, that the ‘past relations are regrettable, and Japan feels deep remorse,’ and in the Japan-China Joint Communique, that Japan is ‘keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war and deeply reproaches itself.’ These statements confirm Japan’s remorse and determination which I stated above and this recognition has not changed at all to this day.”

Japan China
A glimpse of Japan’s war crimes in China

Miyazawa said further, “This spirit in the Japan-ROK Joint Communique, and the Japan-China Joint Communique naturally should also be respected in Japan’s school education and textbook authorization.”

In 1997, then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said, “In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Government of Japan expressed its resolution through the statement by the Prime Minister, which states that during a certain period in the past, Japan’s conduct caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, including China, and the Prime Minister expressed his feeling of deep remorse and stated his heartfelt apology, while giving his word to make efforts for peace. I myself was one of the ministers who was involved in drafting this statement. I would like to repeat that this is the official position of the Government of Japan. During the summit meeting that I had during my visit to China, I have made this point very clear in a frank manner to the Chinese side. Premier Li Peng said that he concurs completely with my remarks.”

In 1998, then Prime Minister Keizō Obuchi said in a declaration, “Both sides believe that squarely facing the past and correctly understanding history are the important foundation for further developing relations between Japan and China. The Japanese side observes the 1972 Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the August 15, 1995, Statement by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious distress and damage that Japan caused to the Chinese people through its aggression against China during a certain period in the past and expressed deep remorse for this. The Chinese side hopes that the Japanese side will learn lessons from history and adhere to the path of peace and development. Based on this, both sides will develop long-standing relations of friendship.”

In the year 2000, Minister for Foreign Affairs Yōhei Kōno addressed China thus: “I believe that Japan’s perception of history was clearly set out in the Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued, following a Cabinet Decision, on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II. As a member of the Cabinet, I participated in the drafting of that Statement. The spirit contained therein has been carried forth by successive administrations and is now the common view of a large number of Japanese people.”

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