Komeito urges Abe to retain remorse for ‘aggression’ in WWII statement


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II should retain wording from past apologies, according to a high-ranking Komeito official.

The statement should incorporate remorse for “colonial rule” and “aggression,” Tetsuo Saito, Komeito’s deputy secretary-general, said in an interview Monday in Tokyo.

These terms were used in the landmark 1995 war apology by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

While Abe has repeatedly said he upholds the 1995 statement, he has suggested he may omit such descriptions in the August statement. Failure to keep the language of atonement could worsen ties with China and South Korea, where bitterness over Japan’s past militarism is widespread.

“If they roll it back, there could be misunderstanding,” Saito said. “It should be a statement that clearly retains those words.”

Komeito, a Buddhist-backed pacifist party and longtime coalition ally with the Liberal Democratic Party, should also play a role in drafting the new statement, Saito said.

Abe relies on Komeito for a majority in the Upper House and support in elections.

“It is a matter of course that we should be consulted and our opinions be reflected,” Saito said.

Abe said last month he upholds the Murayama statement “as a whole” in an interview with NHK.

“It’s not about whether we use expressions that have been repeated in the past,” he said, adding he wants to avoid a detailed debate about whether particular words are included or left out. “I want to put out a statement about the thinking of the Abe administration on the 70th anniversary.”

Komeito and Abe’s LDP began negotiations last week on a package of legislation putting into practice a reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution to allow Japan to defend countries under attack.

While the parties agreed to try to wrap up the talks by the end of March, the process may take longer, Saito said.

“If proposals are put forward that we have not debated, I don’t know if we will reach a conclusion by the end of March,” he said.

Abe told the Diet on Monday that he plans to pass a “permanent law” that would enable Japan to dispatch troops overseas without passing new legislation on each occasion. Saito said this is an issue that has not yet been discussed.