I don't buy it. That reminds me of the defense of "ordinary" Germans who were "forced" to tag along with Hitler and the Nazi's descent into darkness. As many ordinary Japanese were shouting Bonzai to the ordinary German Sieg Heils. The fact is all countries including my own are capable of and have descended into that darkness. It's in all human beings. Better to understand that so you can watch before you get to that point then denying you are capable of it and then doing it without any moral compunction.What you say is true. But from the point of view of ordinary people, they are victims as none of them wanted to start a war, join a war, or be part of a war. They were forced into the situation.
I also don't buy that the Japanese have changed. On the surface, maybe. But patriotism goes deep into the sub-conscience. If they were attacked tomorrow, to a man and women they would rise up to defend Japan. In America before WWII, most people were pretty pacifist. After WWI, Americans didn't want to get into another war like that. Americans watched with horror at what was going on in Europe in 1940. However, they did not want to get involved at all. It took the attack on Pearl Harbor to unite Americans overnight into warlike response against the Japanese (but not Germany). It took Hitler's foolish declaration of war against the US three days later to get us directly involved in the conflict in Europe.Another interesting thing is that in modern Japan, what we typically call "national pride" or identity to see themselves as Japanese and feel that they are part of a country and its history is very weak. This is contrary to the general sentiment in United States.
In some ways, having patriotism and pledging allegiance to the country is seen as being extremist and it is not seen as a character that a well-balanced person should have.