Abe may not seek Cabinet approval for war anniversary statement


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may not seek Cabinet approval for his upcoming statement to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, a government source said Monday.

Out of consideration for China and South Korea, Abe apparently hopes to tone down the formality of the statement and make it more personal, the source said, adding that the statement could be released before the Aug. 15 anniversary.

The government’s official stance is usually approved by all Cabinet ministers.

China and South Korea will scrutinize the document, looking for certain key words seen in the statements by Japanese leaders marking the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the war’s end.

Abe is believed to be reluctant to use terms such as “apology” and “colonial rule and aggression,” which were used by Prime Ministers Tomiichi Murayama and Junichiro Koizumi. Both statements were approved by the Cabinet on Aug. 15 in 1995 and 2005.

Abe “does not necessarily have a particular preference for the format. What is more important is the content,” the source said.

Eschewing Cabinet approval may allow Abe to say his statement is not an update of the previous war anniversary messages, according to the source.

Abe said he will “uphold the basic thinking” on history expressed by his predecessors but may not use the same wording in his statement, because he wants to make it more “future-oriented.”

Despite recent signs of a thaw, Japan’s relations with China and South Korea remain strained due to differing perceptions of wartime history and territorial disputes.

Some within Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, have been calling for him not to diverge from the past statements.

  • Liars N. Fools

    This is something that bears watching. One of Abe Shinzo’s closest aides, Hagiuda Koichi, has proposed a similar idea before. Abe’s personal remarks do not have meaning except ad that and do not override a Cabinet decision. In 2007, there was a Abe cabinet decision, for example, that reaffirmed the Kono Statement but found no evidence that there was Imperial Japanese military or government involvement. This effectively overturned the Kono Statement while theoretically reconfirming it. From Hagiuda’s point of view the 2007 cabinet decision stands. If Abe personally re confirms the Maruyama and Kono Statements, it has no legal meaning because it is not a cabinet decision, which Maruyama Statement was.

    This sort of logic is what infuriates Japanese progressives as well as the Koreans and Chinese.

  • Revelation

    Let’s face it, we can’t rely on Abe to make an statement concerning war atrocities that will be sincerely- and not to mention, officially- recognized by the Japanese government. It simply won’t happen in his term, so let’s see, come the next election, if Japan can’t find a decent prime minister to do what Abe’s incapable of unless the Japanese are out of semi-moral politicians who won’t make the nation look more backwards.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Abe will “uphold the basic thinking” on history expressed by his predecessors. This can mean anything from “war is bad” to “people died”, a weasel phrase. Sent troops to other countries, bombed their cities, but can’t admit to aggression. Korea, Taiwan, and a huge chunk of China annexed into the Japanese Empire, but can’t admit to colonialism. Abe really needs to be tossed out and replaced with someone who can make a sincere and final apology, instead of whitewashing history and antagonizing the neighbors.