In the Diet question-and-answer sessions so far between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and opposition party leaders, Mr. Abe has been fuzzy on some key issues and has yet to present a clear-cut grand vision of what kind of country he wants to build.

Attacking Mr. Abe’s theme of creating a “beautiful country,” Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, argued Monday that Mr. Abe’s beautiful country would become one in which nationalism and authoritarianism have the political upper hand — a country far removed from people’s real lives.

In an attempt to dilute his reputed revisionist view of Japan’s wars in the 1930s and ’40s, Mr. Abe accepted the government’s position expressed by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. In Murayama’s statement, the government clearly apologized for the damage and suffering Japan’s colonial rule and aggression had caused to people of other Asian nations. Mr. Abe also said the government will not make an issue of contesting the conclusions of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East as far as state-to-state relations are concerned.

But asked if he thinks Class-A war criminals, enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine along with Japan’s 2.46 million war dead, should bear responsibility for the Asia-Pacific War, Mr. Abe said only it is not appropriate for the government to judge since there are different opinions on the matter. He added that he will not say whether he will visit Yasukuni as prime minister and will be silent on whether he has actually visited it.

It is reported that Mr. Abe will soon meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun. Because of Mr. Abe’s guarded stance on the culpability of Class-A war criminals and the prospect of future visits to Yasukuni, it is too early to expect that Japan’s political relations with China and South Korea will get back on track easily.

Domestically, Mr. Abe should present concrete measures to rectify the gaps between the rich and poor, reform the social welfare system and improve education. He has offered abundant slogans but not enough substance.

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