National / Politics

Abe seeks war anniversary statement showing future of Japan

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he will deliver a statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II this summer that will show the future direction of Japan.

Speaking to Japanese reporters in Los Angeles, the fourth and last destination on his weeklong tour of the United States, Abe reiterated that his statement will be based on the positions taken by his predecessors, which he has not elaborated on.

“I will compile one using a great amount of our wisdom that can show the rest of the world what kind of a country Japan will aim to be toward the 80th, 90th and 100th anniversaries,” Abe said. “I will stick to the position adopted by successive Cabinets on perceptions of (wartime) history in its entirety. I’ll compile a statement based on it.”

Abe’s use of language when referring to Japan’s wartime behavior has been a focus of attention during his trip, amid speculation that his phrasing here will offer clues to what he intends to say in the war anniversary statement.

Abe was apparently referring to the formal apology statement released in 1995 by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to mark the 50th anniversary, one made in 2005 by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and the landmark 1993 statement issued by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono to address the issue of the “comfort women,” Japan’s euphemism for the estimated 20,000 to 200,000 girls and women forced to work in Imperial Japanese military brothels before and during the war.

Murayama and Koizumi expressed their “deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology” over Japan’s aggression and colonial rule in other Asian countries before and during the war, while Kono expressed his “sincere apologies and remorse” to the comfort women, or ianfu.

Abe suggested last month he will refrain from using the exact same wording from past statements when he delivers his own war statement.

On the high-profile issue of domestic security legislation aimed at paving the way for Japan’s use of collective self-defense, Abe dismissed criticism from the opposition parties that he made light of the Diet by pledging to Congress that he would enact the bills by summer.

“It’s quite reasonable. I meant we will make efforts to that end,” Abe said.

On Wednesday, in the first speech ever delivered by a Japanese leader to a joint session of Congress, Abe said that Japan will enact the bills “by this coming summer.”

The bills would give legal backing to Self-Defense Forces activities that had long been considered unconstitutional until Abe’s resurgence, which led to the Cabinet’s controversial decision to reinterpret, rather than amend, the Constitution in a way that permits Japan to engage in collective defense.

Abe’s security policy also includes revisions to the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines, which were released in New York on Monday.