NAGOYA – The vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday to uphold past government apologies and expressions of remorse for Japan’s wartime aggression in Asia as Abe prepares to issue a statement on the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end.
“The more (Abe) clarifies that he inherits the statements for the 50th and 60th war anniversaries, the better he can cast a spotlight on the future of Japan” in his upcoming statement, Masahiko Komura told reporters.
“Japan’s path itself for the past 70 years since the end of the war clearly reflects the country’s remorse, which goes without saying,” Komura said. “I hope (the new statement) will put emphasis on how we are going to contribute to global peace and stability.”
The new statement is expected to come under close scrutiny by Asian nations — especially China and South Korea, which bore the brunt of Japan’s wartime brutality.
One question is whether Abe will reiterate crucial aspects of the statement issued on the 50th anniversary by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who offered apologies and used the terms “colonial rule” and “aggression.”
On Wednesday, a 16-member advisory panel of scholars, business leaders and other experts held its first meeting to discuss what the contents of Abe’s statement should be. After a series of meetings, the panel is expected to report to the prime minister by summer.
Abe has said he will mention Japan’s remorse over the war, its postwar history as a pacifist state, and future contributions to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
Komura’s remarks echoed those of Yohei Kono, a dovish former LDP lawmaker, who spoke on Tuesday.
“There is no way that Japan’s historical perception can have changed in 10 years. It is clear what kind of wording should be used in the statement” to be issued by Abe, Kono said during a speech in Nagoya.
He was referring to the statements issued by Murayama and Junichiro Koizumi on the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the war’s end.
Kono, who served as a Lower House speaker and is known for releasing a statement as chief Cabinet secretary in 1993 that acknowledged the country’s official role in the wartime procurement of so-called comfort women, who were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during World War II.
Kono also voiced concerns over his perception that the LDP was drifting further to the right.
“I’m currently seeing right-wing politics, rather than conservative politics,” he said.
Neighboring nations that suffered from Japanese military aggression are paying close attention to what kind of statement Abe will issue, as he is believed to be privately critical of the 1995 apology and remorse stated by Murayama.
Regarding another statement on the “comfort women” issue, released by Kono in 1993 when he was chief Cabinet secretary, he said there were no official documents showing women were forcibly procured for wartime Japanese military brothels.
But he added that “if I was asked whether there was no coercion at all, I would reply there were some concrete cases.”
In the Kono statement, the government acknowledged that the Japanese military was involved in establishing “comfort stations” housing mostly Asian women who were forced to work as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Touching on Abe’s planned visit to the United States during the Golden Week holidays from late April through early May, Kono said it is “extremely important” that he clearly conveys to the U.S. government that he is not a “historical revisionist.”