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.