The more I study the statement issued in the name of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet on Aug. 14, the more it disappoints me. The statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II glosses over unpalatable facts and attempts to interpret them in a favorable way for Japan.

Most Japanese today cannot be held responsible for the crimes committed by their leaders before they were born any more than we can be held responsible for the iniquities of the slave trade or other crimes committed by our ancestors. The Russians today are not responsible for Stalin's crimes. Nor are today's Chinese culpable for the massacres and misery caused by that monster Mao Zedong. But we all need to know the basic facts if only to try to ensure that we do not repeat the errors. Cruelty and greed are characteristics sadly found everywhere.

Since the Meiji Restoration, Japanese achievements in industry and commerce have been paralleled in art and culture, but in the first half of the 20th century Japan was led by misguided leaders to "become a challenger to the international order," to use the euphemism of the Abe statement. Unfortunately the first part of the statement is so full of such euphemisms and vague phraseology that it reads to anyone who knows the facts as a totally unconvincing attempt to whitewash recent Japanese history and suggests that Japan was forced to go to war by the attitude and actions of the rest of the world.