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Tomiichi Murayama urged current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday to get Cabinet approval for the statement he will issue on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II.

The former prime minister made the remarks in a speech at the Kansai Press Club in Osaka, following reports that Abe does not plan to seek Cabinet endorsement for his statement, purportedly to highlight its personal nature.

As Abe’s war statement will attract international attention, “any personal statement may deepen doubts” about Japan’s readiness to apologize for its colonial rule and aggression, Murayama said.

“The statement should be issued after the Cabinet officially approves it,” he added.

In Murayama’s Cabinet-endorsed statement in August 1995 regarding the 50th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, he acknowledged Japanese aggression and colonial rule, and expressed deep remorse including a heartfelt apology.

“I thought (at that time) that a statement would be meaningless unless it is officially approved by the Cabinet and issued as a government view,” Murayama told journalists.

A similar war statement issued on the 60th anniversary in August 2005 by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, which repeated key expressions in the Murayama statement, was also approved by the Cabinet at that time, Murayama noted.

Countries that suffered under Japan’s colonial rule or aggression, notably China and South Korea, are concerned that Abe may deliver a watered down apology.

While saying he upholds the Murayama statement “as a whole,” Abe has signaled his reluctance to use such words as “aggression” and “apology” in his forthcoming statement.

The prime minister “probably does not want to accept the Murayama statement or the Koizumi statement,” Murayama said.

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