The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has removed a pledge that Japan will “never wage a war” from the final draft of its campaign platform for this year, which is to be approved at the party’s annual convention scheduled for Jan. 19.
The pledge was a part of the LDP’s platform for 2013.
The pacifist notion, reportedly included in an earlier draft for 2014, was a key phrase that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has used to try to soothe international concerns over his visit to war-related Yasukuni Shrine last month.
According to media reports, the phrase was deleted at the request from some party members who argued Abe’s visit to Yasukuni and the pledge not to wage war again should be discussed separately.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tried Thursday to play down the significance of the change, stressing that the stance of Abe and the party have not changed.
“The party convention will be held on Jan. 19 and I don’t know about details (of the draft) yet,” Suga said.
“At any rate, the pledge never to wage a war matches the viewpoint of the LDP. . . . The content (of the platform) hasn’t changed at all.”
Facing strong criticism from both at home and abroad over his visit to Yasukuni, Abe has repeatedly stressed that he “firmly upholds the pledge never to wage war again.”
Yasukuni enshrines 2.5 million dead Japanese soldiers as well as 12 convicted Class-A war criminals from World War II and another two defendants who died in prison before the postwar International Military Tribunal for the Far East handed down its verdicts.
The Shinto shrine in Tokyo has been often regarded as a symbol of Japan’s militarism of the 1930s and ’40s and postwar nationalistic factions that deny the legitimacy of the Tokyo war crimes tribunal.
Abe, who is widely regarded as a conservative nationalist, has maintained that he visited the shrine to pray for the souls of the people who dedicated their lives to the state in wars, and not in order “to pay homage to war criminals.”