Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to grasp the nettle when he delivered a much-touted address on the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender at the end of World War II.

As Abe pointed out, more than 80 percent of today's Japanese were born after the war and, as time goes on, it will be 100 percent. It is indeed time to move on. However, ideally, moving on should come after a sense of closure. Unfortunately, Abe's speech does not succeed in providing this. Instead, in some ways, it reopens old arguments, implying that Japan was not really responsible for its role in the conflict.

In trying to explain why Japan did what it did in the 1930s and 1940s, Abe described the impact on Japan of the Great Depression and said that the Japanese economy suffered a major blow as a result of economic blocs launched by Western countries and their colonies. In this respect, Abe's speech is reminiscent of the narrative provided by the Yushukan war museum adjacent to the Yasukuni Shrine, which seeks to justify Japan's role in the war.