Japanese reading of WWII history stirs debate

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Toshio Tamogami draws a full pension, gives lectures, appears on TV talk shows and is treated with respect.

Not bad for a general who two months ago was fired for writing an essay justifying Japan's entry into World War II.

The case of the ousted air force chief reveals how the idea that Japan's war was justified still lives on in the minds of many Japanese, including powerful ones.

When Japan went to war, the nation was told it was for self-defense, to free Asia from Western colonial powers, and to deter the United States from attacking Japan.

Japan officially abandoned that view of history after its crushing defeat in 1945, but every so often a Japanese high-up would roil the waters by justifying Japanese conduct in the war and treatment of its neighbors. Not until 1995 did a Japanese prime minister acknowledge his country was an aggressor that had brought about great suffering in Asia.

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