Abe to make WWII anniversary statement ‘future oriented’


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be “future oriented” by including his administration’s “active stance” on international contributions.

But if the statement differs markedly from the historical perspective of previous administrations that expressed remorse and offered apologies for what happened in the war, it is likely to cause friction not only with China and South Korea, which have been highly critical of Abe’s nationalist stance, but also with the United States and European countries.

During a debate among party leaders on Dec. 1, prior to the Lower House snap election that took place Dec. 14, Abe said he wants the statement to include what Japan has learned from the war, what it has achieved in the postwar period, and how it will contribute to the region and the world.

He also indicated he is eager for the statement to reflect the “proactive pacifism” concept for his foreign and security policies. The administration will set up a study panel of experts as early as next month to draw up a draft of the statement, which will be issued on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II.

One issue is how Abe will ensure consistency with the 1995 statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, in which he offered deep remorse and heartfelt apologies for Japan’s past colonial rule and invasion, and the 2005 statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who followed Murayama’s stance.

Both China and South Korea have emphasized historical perspectives in their stances on Japan.

In December last year, the United States, in an unusual move, announced its disappointment over Abe’s visit to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. If the upcoming statement is viewed as revisionist, it will likely trigger a backlash from numerous countries.

Abe has repeated that he will continue the historical perspectives laid out by successive administrations. Other countries, however, view Abe with a wary eye, given his visit to Yasukuni, which enshrines several Class-A war criminals alongside the nation’s war dead, as well as his remarks in April that there has been no fixed definition of “invasion.”

Another cause of concern in many countries is his administration’s review of the process for drawing up the 1993 statement on “comfort women” — women forced into military brothels — issued by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

Furthermore, the hawkish prime minister stirred up controversy when he refrained from mentioning Japan’s responsibility for its wartime aggression in speeches delivered at the past two national memorial services on Aug. 15. The responsibility had been acknowledged by all other prime ministers since Morihiro Hosokawa in 1993.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said Abe will be well aware of sentiments from around the world when drawing up the statement. An aide to Abe meanwhile said the prime minister doesn’t want to cause any further diplomatic disputes.

  • Scott Reynolds

    … no fixed definition of “invasion.”

    The Japanese word in question is “shinryaku” (侵略), which in the context of discussions of war responsibility should be translated as “aggression,” not “invasion.”

    I would urge the editors of the JT to be very careful when checking stories from JIJI. I understand that the JT cannot avoid including wire service stories if it wants to provide a good overview of domestic and international news, but I must say that the stuff from JIJI seems particularly shoddy.

    On a positive note, I find the quality of most of the stories written by JT staffers or freelancers on contract to the JT to be very high. Keep up the good work with the locally produced stuff, but please be more careful with the wire service stories. Many of them are really not up to the level one expects from the JT.

  • phu

    Seventy years later, Japan is still apologizing, formally?

    No, this is ridiculous. It’s way past time to move on. Terrible things happened, and they can’t be undone; people did those things, and at least some of those people were held accountable (sometimes to a fault, thanks to “victors’ justice,” which unfortunately always goes overboard).

    Halting the apologies — for comfort women, wars of aggression, or whatever else — is not a negation of those apologies. After enough time, and I think 70 years is enough damn time, it’s just time to say enough. There’s a point where more apology becomes simply abusive, and we have definitely reached and passed that point with the WW2 apologies and reparations in this part of the globe.

    There’s so much more going on with global politics and, particularly, economics that if we don’t get past this unending obsession with guilt and blame we’re absolutely never going to make any progress on the very serious problems that we should be concentrating on.

    • johnniewhite

      I’m glad to find your reaction — it is normal and the representative view of the people from every country except in China, Korea and Japan to some extent (within the liberal, anti-Japan community). It is not because Japan did not apologize, but because both China and Korea need Japan as a baddy nation for their government to survive. They have been teaching their children a hugely exaggerated account of the horrible roles Japan had played in the WW2. An answer will be found if one examines why Taiwan is not anti-Japan.