Crown Prince turns 55, calls for accounts of history to be passed down correctly

Kyodo, Reuters

Crown Prince Naruhito, marking his 55th birthday on Monday and ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II later this year, called for accounts of history to be handed down correctly.

“I myself did not experience the war, but it is important to look back on the past humbly and correctly pass down tragic experiences and the history behind Japan to the generations who have no direct knowledge of the war, at a time memories of the war are about to fade,” he said at a news conference prior to his birthday.

He characterized postwar Japan as “enjoying peace and prosperity after it was built with the Japanese Constitution as the cornerstone.”

“I hope this year will be an opportunity to take the preciousness of peace to heart and renew our determination to pursue peace,” the Crown Prince said.

He was speaking in response to a question about the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II this summer.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to deliver a statement on the occasion, and there is speculation he may seek to recast Japan’s role in a less apologetic tone.

The Abe government has separately petitioned publishers and others to rewrite accounts of the nation’s wartime actions that it sees as incorrect and damaging to Japan’s image, sparking criticism from U.S. scholars.

The Crown Prince’s grandfather, Emperor Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa, was once revered as divine but accepted a modest status after the war to promote peace and democracy.

The Imperial family has no political powers but current Emperor Akihito has played an important role in working to heal the wounds of the war that was waged across Asia in his father’s name.

Abe’s statement on the anniversary will be closely watched by the United States — and by China and South Korea, where bitter wartime memories run deep — for any sign he is diluting past apologies.

The Crown Prince has reached the same age as when his father, now 81, assumed the throne. He said he feels both serious and moved.

“I will make efforts while learning from the Emperor, who has been seeking the way of existence as the symbol” of the country and the unity of the people as stipulated in the Constitution, as well as from his mother, Empress Michiko, 80, who has been supporting him, he said.

As for his 13-year-old daughter, Princess Aiko, who attends junior high school, he expressed hope she will acquire experiences little by little and deepen her understanding of the duties of the Imperial family.

On Crown Princess Masako, 51, who has been receiving treatment for a stress-induced illness for about 11 years, he said her health is getting better and that he wants his wife to broaden the scope of her activities without being too impatient.

Meanwhile, he said he is “deeply hurt” by the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and terrorism that has taken citizens’ lives — including those of Japanese nationals.

Touching on the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the Crown Prince praised the activities of residents of Hyogo Prefecture to convey experiences of the disaster and a successful event for the Tohoku region’s reconstruction held by high school students in Paris.

  • Hendrix

    At last , someone in Japan with a conscience…

  • So, does the comfort women cover-up continue?

  • JusenkyoGuide

    And watch now as the whole right-wing very carefully ignores what the Crown Prince is saying.

    • R0ninX3ph

      Probably because the royal family has no power other than being figureheads, it literally doesn’t matter to the Government what they say….

      • JusenkyoGuide

        This is true, but given how the right claims to revere the imperial family and the extreme right has even called for a restoration…

      • R0ninX3ph

        They call for a restoration simply to deflect from the other stuff they are saying and doing. They pay attention to what the Emperor has said about certain topics, and Japan would end up more left wing with the Emperor having actual power. So, they might CLAIM they want to return to the old times of the all powerful God on earth. But it just isn’t true.

    • Yes, this is an interesting development because they revere the royal family.

      • wrle

        Seems like the modern day royal family and emperor of japan actually represents the very opposite of what right wingers embodies, despite the fact they dearly revere the royal family.

  • Ben

    this is fantastic news for japan. there are many who keep trying to claim that being truthful about japan’s past is masochistic, when in fact the opposite is true. we rightly honor current japan by recognising the mistakes of the past, and those japanese who suffered under tyranny.

  • Firas Kraïem

    Nice and all but it’s not going to change anything to the great history debates since both sides believe they are advocating the “correct” history anyway.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Wonder if the right wing loonies will blare any of the Crown Prince’s comments from their loudspeakers.

  • jmjoker

    I thank Naruhito from the bottom of my heart for what he said; Japanese soldiers slaughtered half my family in the most heinous and sick way that cannot even be imagined-
    This really means a lot for me personally-
    God Bless you Naruhito! You are a man who is worthy to be Emperor- I have tremendous respect for you

  • boonteetan

    Well said, Crown Prince. Uphold the historical facts and never trust politicians who twist history for their own advantage.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Interesting that all comments so far assume the Crown Prince’s remarks to be a criticism of the historical revisionism. They could just as easily be interpreted as support for the right’s campaign against the Asahi Shimbun reporting in favour of recognizing the comfort women which has subsequently been retracted.

    • Ron NJ

      This is pretty much word for word what I was going to post. Everyone just assumes that they know which position he is expressing support for – it’s a great example of an expertly crafted response which on the face of it seems to satisfy everyone yet in reality is so phenomenally ambiguous that it says practically nothing worth mentioning when you get down to the meat of it.

      “Accounts of history should be passed down correctly” is as much a cornerstone of the whitewashing revisionists as it is of any other group – it all depends on what version of history you subscribe to.

  • tisho

    Which part of his statement is a criticism of the historical revisionism and whitewashing happening in Japan ?

  • gokyo

    I think we will continue to see today the same ambiguity in the royal family’s position as it had in the late 30’s, and during 1941.

  • Gady

    Otanjiobi Omedeto Gozaimazu !! Happy Birthday !! That the truth always prevail and came to light, better later than never .

  • shanchan

    I have to agree with some of those who posted here. I want to believe he is against the revisions, but honestly he isn’t saying whose side he’s on. It sounds from him talking about the preciousness of peace and the Japanese constitution, that he’s against the revisions, but given the ambiguous nature of his comments both sides could use it as support for their agendas regardless of his actual stance.

  • Winners write the history! And lie about everything. Winners are afraid of the truth and hate, to “look again” = re-vision the real facts.

    • Jonathan Fields

      Nice troll, but a little too obvious. I’ll give you a 6 out of 10. Could get a few bites.

  • If – for proving – the impossibility of their HOLOHOAX tale gets you in prison, you know that they have something to hide. Judea declared WAR ON GERMANY in 1933! gas hoax 6 million times exposed! More jews after WWII than before…