BEIJING – Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said Friday he is planning to attend a ceremony China will hold in September to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“If I receive a formal invitation, I intend to go,” Murayama, who was prime minister from June 1994 to January 1996, said in a telephone interview.
Murayama said he recently got a call from Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua, who said the government wants to invite him to the event.
China calls the anniversary its “victory in the war of resistance against Japanese aggression.”
The socialist leader is best known for penning the government’s clear 1995 apology for inflicting suffering on its regional neighbors through colonization and wartime aggression.
The so-called Murayama statement was released on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end. It is highly regarded by China and many other countries.
China has invited world leaders including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whom it views as a historical revisionist, to attend the ceremony in Beijing.
Among major leaders, it is still unknown who will take part in the ceremony aside from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The event will be combined with a major military parade.
The likelihood of Abe traveling to China for the commemoration is very slim, Japanese officials said last month.
China has been wary of what Abe may say on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat and has called on him not to water down the Murayama statement and other past apologies issued and adhered to by Tokyo in recent decades.
Last month, China said it has also invited foreign armed forces to march in the military parade expected to be staged in Tiananmen Square “to remember history, commemorate the martyrs, cherish peace and open the way to the future.”
The last major military parade was held in 2009 to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Until now, military parades had only been staged every 10 years on founding day on Oct. 1, not the war anniversary.
The 91-year-old Murayama did not rule out the possibility of observing the parade but said he has not been told whether one will be held or what exactly will happen during the ceremony.
China regards Sept. 3 as “victory day” because Japan formally surrendered to the Allied Powers on Sept. 2, 1945, at the signing ceremony held aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.