Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must erase doubts — sparked by his own words and deeds — that he wants to water down accounts of Japan's wartime wrongs, according to a former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Yohei Kono, who as chief Cabinet secretary issued a landmark 1993 apology over the "comfort women" forced to work in Japan's wartime military brothels, said Tuesday that one source of such doubts is Abe's push for a more muscular military unfettered by the pacifist Constitution.

"Mr. Abe talks of a 'proactive contribution to peace,' but what does that mean?" Kono said in an interview, referring to Abe's signature security policy that includes ending a ban on the Self-Defense Forces fighting abroad, allowing arms exports and revising the postwar U.S.-drafted Constitution.