Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to include the words “apology” and “aggression” in a statement he will issue Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, government sources said Monday.
Abe is considering using the term “aggression” to show Japan’s commitment to observing an international principle of banning countries from committing aggression, without limiting its context to Japan’s acts during and before World War II, the sources said.
Abe has been making final adjustments as to whether he will express a fresh apology to people mainly in Asia that suffered from Japan’s wartime acts, they said.
Abe’s statement is planned to contain a detailed description of historical events that led to the war. Consequently, the statement is expected to be much longer than a 50th anniversary statement issued in 1995 by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.
Such a move “is aimed at reflecting on why Japan failed to prevent itself from going to war,” one source said.
According to the sources, the planned reference to aggression and an apology reflect calls by Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, to use the words in the new statement.
Abe is also expected to take into account the impact that the statement would have on Japan’s diplomacy with China and South Korea.
However, the two neighbors that suffered the most from Japan’s past militarism may criticize the planned use of the word “aggression” as ambiguous because the 1995 statement and a 2005 statement issued by then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi unequivocally refer to Japan’s wartime acts as aggression.
In the 1995 statement, Murayama expressed his “deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology” for Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression.” The phrases were repeated by Koizumi in the 2005 statement.
According to one source, a draft Abe statement refers to Abe’s address to the 60th commemoration summit in April in Jakarta of the Asian-African Conference, or the Bandung Conference.
Citing some of the principles affirmed at the 1955 conference such as “refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country,” Abe said, “Japan, with feelings of deep remorse over the past war, made a pledge to remain a nation always adhering to those very principles throughout, no matter what the circumstances.”
Abe did not offer an apology in the April address.
In the upcoming statement, Abe plans to express his “deep remorse” over the war, according to the sources.
Some in the Abe government have floated the idea of mentioning an apology when the new statement refers to Abe’s policy of upholding the perception of history outlined by successive Cabinets “in its entirety.” But there have been disagreements over such an idea.