• Kyodo

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A government advisory panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is leaning toward proposing that the war anniversary statement he will issue this summer describe World War II as an act of “aggression,” a panel member indicated.

“There is no one who denies the fact that the previous war was an (act of) aggression,” the panel member told reporters Tuesday, indicating that the word “aggression” will be used in the report that the panel will soon submit to Abe.

But it is Abe who will make the ultimate decision on the wording of the statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Aug. 15.

In 2013, he said in the Diet that the word “aggression” has no established definition either in academic circles or internationally.

The content of the anniversary statement is drawing close attention from China and South Korea, which suffered Japanese wartime aggression or colonization before and during World War II and are watching whether he would water down apologies issued by previous governments.

Most of the panel members agreed that the statement doesn’t have to include “an apology” to highlight its future-oriented nature, although previous prime ministers expressed apologies in statements issued on the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the surrender.

In the statement issued on Aug. 15, 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said Japan caused “tremendous damage and suffering” to the people of Asia and other countries through its colonial rule and aggression, and expressed “feelings of deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology.”

The statement issued on the 60th anniversary in 2005 by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi used the same language.

During discussions among the panel members, which started in February, many members acknowledged Japan’s aggression, but some said the word is not defined clearly in international law.

After Tuesday’s meeting, the head of the panel, Japan Post Holdings Co. President Taizo Nishimuro, declined to tell reporters when he plans to submit the report to Abe.

“There are some areas where details need to be adjusted,” he said without elaborating.

Government sources have said Abe is considering issuing the statement before Aug. 15 out of consideration for Emperor Akihito, who will make his own remarks at a government-sponsored memorial ceremony on the anniversary.

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