Toshio Tamogami was sacked as the Air Self-Defense Force’s chief of staff on Oct 31 after he wrote a controversial essay denying Japanese aggression against other Asian nations before and during World War II. He claims that it is wrong to say that Japan was an aggressor country during that period in history. On Nov 11, he was invited to the Diet to give unsworn testimony.
“I have never thought that what I wrote in the essay is wrong,” Tamogami proudly said during his testimony. “We ( SDF members) also have the right to free speech and expression as provided by the Constitution. Yahoo Japan's online survey shows 58% of people support my views.”
Tamogami said his essay is no different from the views expressed in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who expressed regret over Japan's wartime actions and colonial rule. Murayama's view is currently expressed and repeated as the government's official view on the war. After his testimony, Tamogami said to reporters,“Murayama's view has been revealed as a tool for suppression of free speech.”
The scandal, however, has actually exposed a close relationship among politicians and a conservative support group. It was hotel and condominium developer Apa Group that organized the essay contest under the theme ''True Modern Historical Perspectives." Of the 235 participants in the contest, 94 were from the ASDF. The high ratio has fueled suspicion that ASDF personnel authored and submitted essays on the political theme in an orchestrated way. Tamogami won the top prize of 3 million yen in the competition. Apa is well known for actively supporting conservative political movements.
“Did you, Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, and Toshio Motoya, Apa Group president, attend a party on Sept 15 in 2004?” LDP politician Masakatsu Koike asked Tamogami during the testimony. Tamogami said yes.
Apa Group published a monthly magazine in 2004, criticizing Japan's so-called “masochistic view of history,” with a photo of the participants in the party.
Motoya, who backs conservative politicians such as former PM Shinzo Abe, told Shukan Post: “Yes, Mr Tamogami and Mr Hatoyama attended the party. We, however, have never received any complaints from Mr Hatoyama about the magazine content. We invited him because he is a former LDP politician and has a solid philosophy.”
“I have never supported Tamogami," says Toshiyuki Shikata, professor at Teikyo University and former head of the Ground Defense Force North District Headquarters. "However, the controversy he provoked about Japan's wartime responsibility and SDF issues is something that Japanese politicians have avoided discussing for a long time. Instead of seriously discussing the Constitution and the right of collective defense, they have been relying on the United States for national defense and on Murayama's view without thinking these issues through by themselves.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)
“Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?” by Toshio Tamogami – Apa Group website (PDF file)© Japan Today