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LDP vice president urges Abe to uphold past WWII apologies

Kyodo

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.”

  • CrimsonTears

    This is strictly my question as an outsider of Japan: Why should this current generation in Japan inherit the remorse for any wrongs committed 70 years ago? Those who committed those wrongs (from any country) are either gone or incredibly old. I think it’s time to let those from that time finally rest.

    Abe and this new generation weren’t even an existence at the time, so for what reason should they apologize? I’m still a child, a mere 21 years old, if I were to visit Japan would I be expected to give and receive apologies?

    I’m sorry if this has offended anyone, as it is far from my intention. I am genuinely curious what a Japanese citizen feels about this.

    • Ron NJ

      It’d have to go both ways – in order to not be comically hypocritical, Japan would have to stop bringing up the atomic bombings at every possible opportunity, which is simply a cache of ammunition for their victim complex that is too juicy to ever give up. So much of the Japanese psyche is built on the 我々可哀想な民族 rhetoric.

      And yes, if you are even remotely white, you will be automatically assumed by most people to be an American and thus bear some responsibility for Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and you will hear about it if you spend any appreciable amount of time living here and interacting with the locals, especially if you go to or have children in school here. (Queue apologists chiming in with “I’ve never experienced this in my x years living in Japan so it must not be a thing”)

      • Oliver Mackie

        The fact that you anticipate a response does not discredit it, particularly since you make an assertion which would be logically disputed by that very response. When you assert that, “you will hear about it if you spend any appreciable amount of time living here and interacting with the locals, especially if you go to or have children in school here” is rightly countered by truthful statements along the lines of, “I’ve been living here an appreciable amount of time and interacting with the locals and have children in school here and I haven’t heard about it.” (For the record, I’m not making that statement here.)

      • CrimsonTears

        Thank you for the response. It’s not that I intend to live in Japan, I’m just more so curious about the culture and people. I’ve still got another 8-9 years until I’m finish with school, but I’ve certainly desires to visit other countries (Japan being high on the list). As far as racial/national identifications based on me being white, I can’t really make any complaints against it. You’ll find it in any country: That which is foreign, etc.

    • Scott Reynolds

      The context here is that the remarks in question are to be delivered on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, by the official representative of the Japanese government (the Prime Minister). It is therefore right and proper that they should reflect on Japan’s responsibility for its role in the war. This is not about individual Japanese who personally had no part in the war having some obligation to apologize for their ancestors’ sins. Rather, it is a question of the official stance of the Japanese government. Specifically, does Abe intend to change the government’s official stance (recognition of Japan’s responsibility as an aggressor nation) or not.

      • CrimsonTears

        Thank you for answering me!

        I can understand it not being on an individual basis. Perhaps it’s merely a personal feeling, but it seems strange that we, humans, cling to past incidences in this manner. I feel like this type of thing only serves to further divide people beyond the imaginary dividers we’ve already created.

    • wrle

      You have a point. Sure, it is not the current japanese generations fault for what has happened in the past and they do not have to keep apologizing for the wrong doings of others. But an apology is meant to be a genuine gesture of sincerity and to help a relationship move forward.

      Unfortunately this can not be said with the attitude of the current japanese government, where many politicians including the prime minister out rightly denies specific war atrocities and white washes history. That is what is upsetting their neighbors.

      If the current generation does not correctly understand the past, then what will happen in their future? Education is key to fostering peace. Just look at the Germans as an example.

  • CrimsonTears

    Thank you for the reply!

    As for the links: “Japan has not seriously reflected on its past war of aggression..” This in particular is the kind of stuff I mean, it’s been 70 years, isn’t it time to move past it?

  • thehim

    It most definitely was a brutal country from 1931-1945. Learn some history before you spout ignorance. Brutal towards its own heavily indoctrinated people, brutal against its neighbours. The general populace was cannon fodder for their ruling elite who believed they were doing it all for some mythical Meiji Restoration invented God, on whose watch they slaughtered millions and he bore no responsibility for his murderous actions.

    The fact remains that several Asian neighbours of Japan believe that it has not sufficiently atoned for its appalling actions during that period. It is meaningless what people from other countries, Japanese nationalists, or credulous foreign Japanophiles believe about this topic; it is what the victims of those countries think that matters. Trauma lasts for generations, people do not ‘get over’ things and move on, they remain in stasis, as has the relations between these Asian countries in the post-war period due to this issue and Japan’s refusal to provide those countries with the necessary actions that would help to heal these old wounds. It has nothing to do with scapegoating, more to do with certain nations wishing to redress the injustices of Japan’s many crimes that due to the American occupation in the post-war period it was never properly held to account for.

    In every article of this nature that wikipedia link is posted as if it provides some sort of legitimate and contextual understanding of the nature of Japan’s past apologies. It does not. It is a list that tells us nothing other than a statement was issued on a particular date.

    Due to the ideological exorcising of wartime Japanese history from education, post-war Japanese people are barely aware of their own history, so they can hardly be cited as reliable source to comment upon the international relations between their neighbours. They have been brought up in a culture of victimhood, free from historical fact or knowledge of the damage Japan inflicted upon East Asia.

  • CrimsonTears

    How much of the population do you think were alive during the war? Atrocious acts or not, a significant amount of time has passed. Again those that committed the acts or suffered them are either gone from age or old men/women.

    I’m not arguing who was more brutal, but when you’re holding people that were not involved (for stuff done 70 years ago!) responsible and expecting “sincere” apologies, I think there is a problem.

  • Ron NJ

    From the very link you posted, those women weren’t “comfort women”, which is generally used to mean women forced into sexual slavery (generally by the Japanese government/military), rather than merely encouraged (take that for what it’s worth) to engage in prostitution at their own financial gain. There is no indication that the women in the Stripes article were forced, physically or otherwise, to engage in the sex trade against their will.

    Your use of the term ‘comfort women’ is deceitful and inaccurately portrays the conditions that existed at the time and place in question, per your own link.

  • wrle

    And you have exactly portrayed my point, denial. It is truly dispicable when you come across individuals who try to reason on this topic by trying to make it seem justifiable. I completely understand your point about women being victimized in wars or being deprived of human rights, or about the women from korea and asia who were sold off by brokers.

    But the facts are there, the documents are there and the japanese government and royal household knows and have access to it. Its a fact that Emperor showa himself directly approved comfort women stations in korea and its a fact that the japanese military was involved in the forced recruitment of women. PM Abe was not very keen about airing this on NHK and hence it was censored. Sorry that I can’t provide you sources, but you can find them online at your time. Unless people are suggesting that all 200 000 comfort women were willing prostitutes.

    In this case you are the one who does not a have clear picture of comfort women, nor do you have a deep understanding of this issue. The Japanese government needs to grow up and get honest with themselves if they are really serious about moving forward and improving their countries image.