The name of former Malaysian foreign minister Ghazali Shafie crops up quite often on ultra-rightist Japanese websites which quote him as having said
“Why does Japan apologise? Without Japan South East Asia would not have gained independence”
The quote seems to have originated from a 1991 book “Sekai kara mita Dai Towa Sensou (Dai Towa War in the World’s Eye)” by Futaranosuke Nagoshi and published by Tendensha, which uses quotes attributed to famous people both in Asia and in the West to establish that Japan’s war was a holy war of independence for Asia, and to explode the ‘myth’ of Japanese invasion of Asia.
Since Ghazalie Shafie is not a well known politician in Japan, oftentimes you will see the websites use photos of Sukarno or Mahathir Mohammad instead so that the unwary reader will be impressed by an image of someone they think they recognize.
TRANSLATION: Without Japan there would have been no Independence for South East Asia – “why do you apologise? It was a wonderful thing that Japan did in that war. you Japanese who are no bigger than us Malays chased away the big British men. Without Japan there would have been no independence for South East Asia. To deny this priceless sacrifice that Japan made is like looking only in the rear view mirror”. Malaysian foreign minister – Ghazali Shafie
TRANSLATION Ghazali Shafie
In conversation at an event which took place on July 19th 1988 at the Akasaka Prince Hotel, Tokyo, Ghazaie Shafie is reported to have said to Kenji Tamai, Futaranosuke Nagoshi and Shinjiro Nakajima as follows (according to the book “Sekai Kara Mita Dai Towa Senso (Dai Towa War in the World’s Eye)” written by Futaranosuke Nagoshi and published by Tendensha).
“In response to a certain Japanese diet member who said to me “I am sorry for the nuisance that our nation inflicted on your country during the previous war”, I replied “why do you say such things. It was a wonderful thing that Japan did in that war. You Japanese who were no bigger in physique than us Malays, chased away the big tall British. As a result, Malaysia was able to achieve independence. Without the Dai Towa War, we cannot imagine independence for any of the south-east Asian countries including Malaysia and Singapore”. In front of Kenji Tamai, Futaranosuke Nagoshi and Shinjiro Nakajima, he continued to say “I dislike both those who are bossy, as well as those who bow and scrape. I suggest that Japan should open your eyes more towards Asia. Nowadays, in terms of the amount of development aid money given to developing nations of the southern regions, Japan is number one. Without question Japan is the pre-eminent economic powerhouse of Asia. The call to ‘Look East’ and ‘Learn from Japan’ is not restricted to just Singapore and Malaysia. Although the others do not say it outloud, this is what all the countries really believe. Even in those countries where there was strong anti-Japanese feelings, more and more the feelings are of friendliness towards Japan. Such being the case I would like Japan to look not only at America and Europe but to be a nation which is responsible for Asia. In the past, Japan felt responsible for Asia and that’s why Japan made such a great sacrifice during that war. To see the inheritance of that precious war negatively, is akin to looking only at the rear view mirror. If you drive a car without looking in front of you, you will take a wrong turn”.
Also attributed to Ghazali Shafie in the book “Sekai Kara Mita Dai Towa Senso (Dai Towa War in the World’s Eye)” written by Futaranosuke Nagoshi and published by Tendensha, the following:
“In September 1988, the Malaysian foreign minister Gazali Shafie criticized a Japanese politician who apologised for the past war. Ghazalie said ‘My belief is that it is a shame that there are Japanese politicians who deny the fact that Japan has done more for Asia than any other country. If he were a responsible politician, he should have said “Back then most nations of Asia were colonies of Western countries, and almost none were independent nations. It was the Japanese army who chased all those Westerners away. Was it not natural for us to repress the guerilla and terrorist insurgents in order to maintain law and order? Have you forgotten how for tens and hundreds of years you had been harshly mistreated by the colonialists? How you all cheered and welcomed the Japanese army when we were advancing but how you you conveniently forgot your part in this and placed all the blame on us when we lost. The root cause of not being able to escape colonialism is Asian characteristic of not taking a stand”.
It is amazing to see how a lot of Japanese people read these quotes from a famous Malaysian foreign minister and suddenly start to believe that the world history that they learned at school was a form of American brain-washing. From that day on, these people start to ‘discover’ the hidden history of Japan’s holy war in Asia and the deep gratitude that all Asian nations feel toward Japan for having liberated them from colonialism.