Abe mulls fresh apology for war actions: report

2015-08-11 08:18Global Times Editor: Li Yan

Wording of anniversary speech under close scrutiny of neighbors

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering whether to issue a fresh apology to Asian nations that suffered from Japan's wartime actions in his upcoming speech to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Kyodo News Agency reported Monday, citing anonymous government sources. [Special coverage]

It also said that the speech would contain the word "aggression," but this may relate to a more global context of banning aggression, rather than directly to Japan's acts before and during the war, Kyodo said.

Amid somewhat conflicting media reports, Japanese broadcaster NHK said Monday that a draft of Abe's statement would refer specifically to key phrases appearing in former Premier Tomiichi Murayama's 1995 statement, including "apology," "deep remorse," "aggression" and "colonial rule," but the broadcaster did not elaborate on the phrasing.

Analysts believe that the statement, if it includes these phrases, may ease Sino-Japanese conflicts, but could never be regarded as a solution to Abe's foreign policy toward China.

Earlier reports said those key words were not included in Abe's speech draft or would be linked to Japan's wartime past.

According to newspaper The Asahi Shimbun Saturday, Abe showed the draft to executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner, the Komeito party, at a meeting on Friday night. He has said he will uphold past statements about the war including former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama's 1995 landmark statement, but the draft did not include "apology" or similar wording over Japan's role in the war, the report said.

Sankei newspaper also said Monday that Abe was likely to use the word "aggression" but not necessarily linked to Japan's war history. "It is likely that he will touch on [aggression] as a universally unforgivable act," the report said.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye reiterated her call on Monday for Abe to inherit the right perception of history in the statement that is expected to be approved by his cabinet one day before the August 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

"Taking this meaningful opportunity, the Japanese government should make it clear to completely inherit historical perception of previous cabinets and show a mature attitude to newly start relations with neighboring countries," Park said during a meeting with senior presidential secretaries.

South Korea has called for Abe to include four key words, including war of aggression, colonization, apology and repentance, in the statement, inheriting historical perceptions of previous governments shown in the former prime ministers' statements by Murayama and by Junichiro Koizumi in 2005.

Separately, Komeito, former leaders and media outlets also urged Abe to follow the past statements and convey the feeling of apologies to other countries.

Murayama asked Abe to uphold the apologies made by previous leaders in an interview Kyodo published Monday, saying that "Japan's aggression is a historical fact. It is natural to apologize if you did something wrong. Without words of apology, neighboring countries would harbor skepticism again."

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference Monday that Abe's statement will comprehensively uphold the Murayama and Koizumi statements but whether the words "apology" and "aggression" will be included "depends on Abe's final decision," reported Kyodo Monday. Suga also revealed that the Japanese government is considering publishing the statement in other languages such as English, Chinese and South Korean.

"Abe's ambiguous attitude toward wartime history has raised criticism both at home and abroad. Mainstream Japanese society is supportive of the country apologizing for its aggression and colonial practices. However, Abe has been denying them which has tarnished the image of the country," Liu Jiangyong, vice dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

Liu said despite right-wing pressures in Japan, he hopes Abe can show some sincerity to bring Japan back to the peaceful path after the war.


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