Japan air force chief faces sack
The head of the Japanese air force is to be sacked after saying the country was not an aggressor in World War II, Japan's defence minister said.
Yasukazu Hamada said Gen Toshio Tamogami's views, written in an essay, ran counter to the government's position on the war.
"Therefore it is inappropriate for him to remain in this position and I will swiftly dismiss him," he said.
The general's views are likely to anger many of Japan's neighbours.
China, North and South Korea and other Asian nations still have traumatic memories of Japan's aggression and colonial rule.
Japan expressed remorse for its war-time actions in 1995, and then gave another apology ten years later.
"What he said was inappropriate for an air chief of staff," Mr Hamada told a news conference.
"He should not remain in the job."
Mr Hamada said that by acting swiftly against the general, the Japanese government was making it clear that it did not share his views which, he said, could stir controversy in Asian nations.
Gen Tamogami, 60, is chief of staff of Japan's Air Self-Defence Force.
In his essay on the theme of "true views of modern history", he wrote: "Even now, there are many people who think that our country's 'aggression' caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War.
"But we need to realise that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War.
"It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation."
World War II in the Asia-Pacific region is referred to as the Greater East Asia War by those who saw it as Asian nations seeking independence from Western powers.