Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview aired Thursday that he will issue a statement in the summer to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II based on “remorse over the war.”
“Japan, a country that brought significant suffering to the people of Asia (during and before the war), has contributed to the development of Asia based on remorse over the war,” Abe said on a Nippon Television Network program. “With such pride in heart, I would like to issue a message at home and abroad that (Japan) will make further contributions to peace in Asia and the world.”
The TV broadcaster conducted the interview in Washington after Abe delivered a speech at a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday in which he expressed “deep remorse” over the war and said Japan “must not avert our eyes” from the suffering it brought to people in other Asian countries.
In the interview, Abe said that since his first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007, he has kept saying that Japan’s prosperity rests on its “deep remorse” over the war and that Japan’s postwar path as a peace-loving nation is based on such remorse.
“I said nothing new this time” in the address to Congress, explained Abe, who returned as prime minister in December 2012. “I simply said what I have been saying all along.”
Whether and how Abe would address Japan’s wartime history in the speech had been closely watched by China and South Korea because it is likely to serve as a guide for the 70th anniversary statement he plans to issue.
Beijing and Seoul have been urging Abe to use phrases such as “heartfelt apology,” “colonial rule” and “aggression” in public — terms which, like “deep remorse,” originally appeared in a statement Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued Aug. 15, 1995, on the 50th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.
Though Abe said in Wednesday’s address that he “will uphold the views” expressed by previous prime ministers, the omission of such phrases prompted China and South Korea to criticize his speech.
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