TAIPEI – Taiwan on Friday called on the Japanese government to keep examining its wartime aggression and learn a lesson from history on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.
Presidential Office Spokesman Charles Chen said President Ma Ying-jeou expressed hope that the Japanese government will continue to face up to historic facts and take a forward-looking and responsible attitude when developing friendly and cooperative relations with its neighboring countries so they can jointly advance peace and prosperity in the region.
“Historic mistakes may be forgiven, but historic facts cannot be forgotten,” Chen said.
Chen made the remarks in response to a statement, issued earlier Friday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, which mentioned Japan’s repeated expressions of deep remorse and apology for its wartime actions.
Describing Japan’s wartime behavior as “aggression,” Chen said a significant number of lives were lost in China and Taiwan during the war and many women were forced to work in wartime brothels for the Imperial Japanese Army.
“Our soldiers and people and those in Japan are actually victims of militarism,” he said.
Taiwan, which was under Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to 1945, has been watching closely, as did its Asian neighbors and the rest of the world, what language Abe would use to describe Japan’s wartime behavior in his statement.
“Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war,” Abe said, without offering his own apology anew.
That was in contrast to statements made on the 50th anniversary in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and 10 years after that by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, each of whom directly expressed his “feelings of deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology.”
When Ma was first elected in 2008, the Taiwan legislature resolved to ask the Japanese government to apologize to the so-called “comfort women” and redress the war crime.
The term is used for mainly Asian women who were procured for brothels for the Japanese military before and during World War II. There are only four “comfort women” alive in Taiwan and their average age is about 90.