"Propaganda is a soft weapon; hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake, and strike the other way." -Jean Anouih, L'Alouette, 1952
What can you do about a propaganda that outlived its usefulness and coming back to haunt you? That is a question the Western countries, especially the U.S. is facing after having sold the post WWII world the anti-Japanese propaganda.
The war time propaganda and the subsequent military tribunal have established that the Japanese are greedy aggressor, atrocious, and bigoted cruel racists, the rest of the humanity, especially the Chinese and the Japanese colonial subjects such as the Koreans, were the poor victims, therefore the world has to carry out the justice by stripping Japan of all the territories with non Japanese cultural heritage, making Japan pay the damage and restitution to rebuild the entire region, especially China, and reforming the foundation of Japanese society in such a way as to make Japan incapable of waging a war again, and to make it serve the world as the Allied nations see fit.
The Allied nations for the most part consisted of the US, UK (including Canada and Australia), China and Netherlands. France and Russia became the Japan's enemy only toward the end of the war. Their strategy against Japan was developed by the U.S. with inputs from other Allied nations. According to the now declassified war time documents, psychological warfare and propaganda were important part of the strategy. Apparently, it was used not only against the Japanese, but also it was applied to their own peoples including the military. The strategy was first developed in 1942 as Japan Plan by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS: predecessor of CIA).
You can see some part of that strategic thinking in a pamphlet titled GI Roundtable: What Shall Be Done about Japan after Victory? written for the U.S. Military by the American Historic Association (AHA) in collaboration with scholars, journalists, the State Department, Office of Strategic Services, and the relevant foreign embassy (see the AHA archive site).
"Rape of China", as they put it in the the pamphlet, was the biggest propaganda they developed, which has been used very effective in executing over 1000 military and political leaders as war criminals, and in making the Japanese people feel guilty and keeping them apologizing and paying the restitution. For the most American soldiers who knew the Japanese only from their fierce fighting in the battle fields, images of the Japanese soldiers abusing civilians and POWs must have seemed plausible. Even today, the world is still made to believe "Rape of Nanking" happened, despite the fact that there weren't any credible witness of murder scenes, although there were numerous stories someone heard about or stories made by connecting dots assuming atrocity was committed by the Japanese military. On the other hand, the atrocities the Chinese soldiers committed against the Chinese as well as the Japanese civilians are discounted and ignored (see War Guilt Information Program Against Japan: the Paper Trail).
I don't know how anybody can buy into such propaganda today, knowing what the Chinese have been doing ever since the Japanese have put down their arms (actually the Chinese have been behaving that way for thousands of years). Yet the American government officials and politicians as well as American historians are stubbornly telling the Japanese to apologize and pay up the restitution at every turn without presenting concrete evidence, even today as indicated in such statements as Statement on Prime Minister Abe's December 26 Visit to Yasukuni Shrine issued by the U.S. Department of State on December 26, 2013, Standing with Historians of Japan (by Alexis Dudden, March 2015) and its extension, Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan (May 2015) signed by 457 American and some other Western historians. Note that those historians in Japan they are supporting are the disciples of the historians who took over the Japanese education system as part of the War Guilt Information Program (brainwashing program) the Allied Occupation Forces imposed on the defeated Japanese during the 7 years of occupation, and as a group they are still holding on to their positions.
Those American historians are trying to stop the inevitable exposure of the lies and distortions their predecessors promoted. The propaganda is losing its hold on the Japanese people as evidenced by the actions of the Japanese government and the new breed of Japanese historians such as Fujioka Nobukatsu. It is unfortunate that those arguing along the line of the old propaganda are not interested in reviewing the historic facts. As a result, "information gap" is building between the two camps.
Meanwhile, what are the Chinese doing? The Chinese communists have been killing their own people left and right, carrying out ethnic cleansing in Tibet, Uighur, and Inner Mongolia, steeling islands from Philippine and Vietnam, declaring Senkaku islands as well the entire Okinawa islands Chinese territory, telling the Japanese to shut up and face up their sorry past. When the Chinese accuse Japan for not facing up the past, they are talking about the history created by the old propaganda, and the Chinese communists are still promoting that old propaganda in the U.S. "encouraging" the U.S. medias as well as politicians and historians to stick to it. The Chinese are trying to play victim while invading the neighbors and committing atrocities. They are riding on that old propaganda that says Japan is the bad guy.
The American military is intensifying their training and surveillance around China, increasing the level of joint operation with the Japanese military. The recent official examination of the declassified government records pertinent to the suspected Japanese war crimes (IWG reports 2007) came up empty handed. Yet, the American government officials and politicians as well as the historians and media are perpetuating the outdated propaganda and telling the Japanese to apologize for the war crimes they did not commit at every turn, totally ignoring their own war crimes such as mass killing of Japanese civilians using carpet bombing and atomic bombing as well as atrocities the Chinese have been committing. Is this a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Or do they think it's still useful to continue the course they set some 80 years ago?