Ozawa hits Abe over Kyuma remarks


Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma’s remarks on the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were an easy target for Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa during a policy debate Sunday in Tokyo with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Ozawa asked Abe if he will ask the U.S. to apologize for dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. Abe didn’t reply directly, but he did say, “We should do our best to abolish nuclear weapons instead of spending energy in demanding an apology from the U.S.”

Abe said he wants Kyuma, as the defense minister of the only nation to have been attacked with atomic weapons, to make further efforts to help the world eradicate nuclear arms, indicating he has no intention of dismissing the defense chief for his remarks.

Kyuma apologized Sunday and retracted his remarks from the day before, which were taken as justifying the atomic bombings. But he did so only under pressure from his fellow Liberal Democratic Party members, who were concerned about the damage the comments could inflict on the LDP in the House of Councilors election set for July 29.

During the debate, Abe said Japan should face the fact that it is under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Ozawa criticized Abe for sounding like he was saying Japan cannot say anything about the atomic bombings because of Washington’s nuclear protection of Japan.

“We know that a nuclear deterrent is important, but bilateral partnership is equal under an alliance. We should say what we should say,” Ozawa said.

Touching on other issues, Abe ruled out the possibility of dissolving the House of Representatives and holding elections for both Diet chambers July 29. Some politicians have been seeking a “double election,” which is considered the ultimate opportunity for voters to evaluate the current administration.

The debate was organized by the National Congress for the 21st Century Japan, a group of nonpartisan lawmakers, local leaders, business leaders, journalists, critics and academics, ahead of the Upper House election.

Campaign report card

Nine private-sector think tanks and organizations gave mixed ratings for the governing coalition’s efforts to meet its pledges in the House of Representatives election in September 2005, according to evaluations released Sunday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took over the government from Junichiro Koizumi one year after the election, was credited by some for a range of achievements over a relatively short period, but he was criticized by others for failing to ensure sufficient deliberation when legislating policies.

The highest score given to Abe’s Cabinet was 65 out of 100, while the lowest was 27.

For related stories:
Under LDP pressure, Kyuma retracts A-bomb comments

A-bombings ‘couldn’t be helped’: Kyuma

Political faceoff now shifts to election