Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga rebuffed criticism by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over Japan’s revisionist views of its wartime history and also said it is doubtful that Ban takes seriously Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s repeated calls for summits with Beijing and Seoul.
Ban on Monday criticized Tokyo’s revisionist views on Japan’s wartime history, apparently siding with his native South Korea.
Ban said at a news conference in Seoul that he believes Japanese leaders need to reflect greatly on the past, gain insight and vision in order to look forward.
His criticism was an apparent response to Abe’s position not to fully support the 1995 war apology statement by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama that had acknowledged that Japan had waged a war of aggression. It is the position of both Beijing and Seoul that Tokyo had committed acts of aggression.
Tokyo will ask Ban what he meant by his comments, Suga said on behalf of Abe.
He added: “Abe has repeatedly said he is open for dialogue, even though there are issues to be solved with China and South Korea.”
Suga also said Tokyo will continue to explain its historical stance to the international community, including the United Nations. Abe is scheduled to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York next month.
When asked about historical issues concerning Japan, South Korea and China, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006 remained neutral, only urging the stakeholders to overcome discrepancies about their past so they could improve their relations with each other.
Asked Monday about Ban’s comments, Abe, in Kuwait on a six-day visit to the Middle East, repeated his stance that top-level communication is indispensable to maintaining peace and stability in East Asia.
However, since Abe took office last December after the Liberal Democratic Party’s election win, Beijing and Seoul have rejected offers to hold summits, saying Abe has to change his views on history.