The opinion piece by Jeff Kingston in the Sept. 10 edition presented his interpretation of “revisionism” and the “comfort women” issue, assertively describing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as “revisionist” and “extremist.” But he did not present important historical facts contradicting the assertions in his article and this might mislead his readers. Due to space constraints, I am unable to offer a point-by-point refutation here. Instead, I would like to draw the attention of the readers to the essential points the author did not mention.
The prime minister has faced history with sincerity. On the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, he issued a comprehensive statement which was decided not by himself but by the entire Cabinet. It stated that “Japan has repeatedly expressed feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war,” that “we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past,” and that “we have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.”
As an embodiment of this spirit, the joint visits by the prime minister and U.S. President Barack Obama to Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor in 2016 were a symbol of reconciliation between the two countries, and catalyzed the pledge for peace and prosperity toward the future.
Regarding the comfort women issue, it has been widely shared that both countries confirmed that this issue is “resolved finally and irreversibly” as part of the Japan-South Korean agreement of 2015, agreed by the foreign ministers. On this issue, Abe clarified in the above-mentioned statement that “we will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honor of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century, and lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.” His thoughts remain unchanged from those of previous prime ministers, who had expressed feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology. In 1998, then-President Kim Dae-jung expressed his appreciation for then-Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s recognition of history and they agreed officially to build a future-oriented relationship.
In conclusion, let me reiterate the importance of making reference to these historical facts whenever we argue those issues.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.