Japan and its ally, Germany, suffered a tremendous defeat in World War II. Both countries have been demilitarized since 1945. The Japanese view of the war is more nuanced than that of its wartime partner, however. Germany has paid reparations and apologized for its role, but Japan's neighbors have condemned it for its perceived failure to come to terms with its crimes during the war.
Japan's relative reluctance to accept its past has been controversial. The Japanese view of its history in the war is extremely complex; pacifism has taken root in the country, but more than a few Japanese regard kamikaze pilots as heroes.
Japan's treatment of its WWII role has been shaped by its status as the only nation to suffer atomic bombing. While a majority of Americans believe the use of atomic weapons was justified, only a small minority of Japanese agree. The slaughter of so many civilians in the atomic attacks has led many Japanese to view their country as a victim. Its sense of victimhood may explain its reluctance to accept responsibility for its crimes in China or its treatment of comfort women during WWII.
In the United States, WWII is seen as a "good" war against evil regimes. In Germany, it is viewed as a "bad" war during which the nation committed awful crimes—especially the Holocaust. In Japan, the war escapes categorization and remains an occasional source of political controversy.