War Responsibility Reexamination Committee

The Yomiuri Shimbun War Responsibility Reexamination Committee comprised 17 members of the Editorial Board, the Yomiuri Research Institute and staff writers from a range of departments of the Editorial bureau of Yomiuri Shimbun Tokyo head office. It marked the first attempt by the Japanese to reexamine World War II on our own account and to identify the responsibility of the political and military leaders back then.

Reexamination was made on the following five main themes:

The results of the reexamination were carried in the form of special feature articles in The Yomiuri Shimbun continuously over a one-year period from August 2005 to August 2006. In the “final report of the reexamination,” carried in the morning editions of Aug. 13 and 15, 2006, we clarified specifically those who were gravely responsible for crucial moments of history, from the Manchurian Incident to the atomic bombings and the Soviet entry into war.

Additionally, Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of the board and editor-in-chief of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, who suggested that a reexamination committee be established, held a dialogue with nonfiction writer Masayasu Hosaka. The dialogue — titled “What is war responsibility?” — was published in the November edition of the monthly magazine “Ronza” in 2006.

In the dialogue, Watanabe said: “As our memories of that war have not faded away yet, and as those who experienced the war are still alive now and so are their children, we thought we must examine our moral and political responsibility for the war ... Even if half of our readers oppose our attempt, they will someday understand us. If we are going to do it, it is now or never, we thought. That was what motivated us to do it the most.

“[Japan] used force on other countries and invaded them under the cloak of a holy war, committed aggression into such a vast area and caused so much trouble to local people, even driving them to death while, obviously, also having lots of Japanese soldiers die useless deaths. Every citizen has to understand these facts properly,” Watanabe said.