ISE, MIE PREF. – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he will express remorse for Japan’s actions in World War II while highlighting the country’s bid to contribute more actively to world peace in his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the war’s end in August.
“I would like to write of Japan’s remorse over the war, its postwar history as a pacifist nation and how it will contribute to the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” Abe said in Ise, Mie Prefecture, during his first news conference of the year.
To mark the anniversary, the government is preparing to craft a new statement, a document that will be closely watched due to the implications it could to have on relations with China and South Korea.
Beijing and Seoul will be paying especially close attention to whether Abe will uphold the 1995 Murayama statement, an apology for Japan’s wartime aggression in Asia, issued by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.
On the 50th anniversary of the war’s end on Aug. 15, 1995, Murayama said Japan caused “tremendous damage and suffering” to the people of Asia and other countries through its colonial rule and aggression, and expressed “feelings of deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology.”
The statement is often quoted as the official position of the government on World War II.
Asked if he would uphold the Murayama statement, Abe said his administration “has and will uphold statements issued by past administrations.”
He also said his statement will touch on Japan’s determination to be a proactive contributor to world peace.
Abe’s first news conference of the year was held after he visited Ise Shrine, which is dedicated to the ancestral deities of the Imperial family. Prime ministers in the past have visited the shrine at the beginning of the year.
Abe also reiterated his commitment to beating deflation and reviving the economy by pressing ahead with his “Abenomics” policies.
“We will try to quickly implement the economic stimulus package compiled at the end of last year and make Abenomics bear fruit,” he said.
“I will try to use the regular Diet session (to be convened later this month) to implement various reforms,” Abe said, citing work on national security legislation, regional economies and the empowerment of women.
Earlier Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a speech at the prime minister’s office that the adminstration will continue to give top priority to the economy.
“During the regular Diet session, we need to pass various bills while seeking an early passage of the fiscal 2015 budget,” Kono, the top government spokesman, said.
Political parties also marked the start of work in 2015.
Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, held a meeting of its executives in Tokyo.
“It’s the most important event in the first half of this year — a battle to strengthen our party’s cohesion,” Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said, referring to nationwide local elections scheduled for April.
Speaking at a meeting of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Secretary-General Yukio Edano expressed hope that the party will make big leaps this year in meeting people’s expectations.
“There will be an Upper House election next year, which could turn out to be a double election (also for the Lower House), so whether we can take the next big step depends on this year,” Edano said.
The DPJ is scheduled to hold an election Jan. 18 to pick the successor to Banri Kaieda, who resigned as party president after losing his Lower House seat in the December election.
So far, former DPJ Secretary-General Goshi Hosono, acting party leader Katsuya Okada and former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma have announced their candidacy for the top slot.
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