Abe must back state­ment

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

The Repub­lic of Korea is brac­ing for the worst in its ties with Ja­pan, as the Abe ad­min­is­tra­tion is set to dis­close the re­sults of its con­tro­ver­sial scru­tiny into the back­ground of the Kono State­ment, one of Ja­pan’s key apolo­gies for its war­time atroc­i­ties.

In the state­ment, is­sued in 1993 by then-chief cab­i­net sec­re­tary Yo­hei Kono, the Ja­panese govern­ment ac­knowl­edged for the first time that the Ja­panese Army was in­volved in forc­ing women from Korea and else­where into sex­ual slav­ery dur­ingWorldWar II.

The state­ment is re­garded by Seoul as one of the cor­ner­stones of its re­la­tion­ship with Tokyo, as it re­flects the true his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive that the ROK ex­pects of Ja­pan. Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe has of­fi­cially pledged to re­spect the state­ment. But at heart, he does not be­lieve in it. He views it as some­thing that stands in the way of re­al­iz­ing his vi­sion, says a com­men­tary of the Korea Herald.

Abe’s dream is to make Ja­pan “a beau­ti­ful coun­try”, a coun­try that has done noth­ing shame­ful and there­fore de­serves the love and re­spect of young Ja­panese.

Abe is seek­ing to un­der­cut the state­ment, which apol­o­gizes for Ja­pan’s wrong­do­ings and ac­knowl­edges the shame, with­out of­fi­cially dis­avow­ing it. In Fe­bru­ary, he launched a five­mem­ber panel to find out how the state­ment was com­piled, with the in­ten­tion of show­ing it was not based on facts.

Ear­lier this week, Ja­panese me­dia out­lets re­ported that the Tokyo govern­ment might an­nounce, based on the panel’s find­ings, that the state­ment was the re­sult of me­di­a­tion be­tween the ROK and Ja­pan.

Such an an­nounce­ment would se­ri­ously un­der­mine the cred­i­bil­ity of the state­ment, as it would in­tro­duce the claim that Ja­pan’s 1993 apol­ogy was based not on his­tor­i­cal facts but on some kind of po­lit­i­cal bar­gain­ing with the ROK.

The re­ports from Tokyo have un­der­stand­ably put Seoul on edge. And ROK of­fi­cials have pointed out that the Kono State­ment was based on a study con­ducted by a Ja­panese govern­ment­com­mis­sioned re­search team,

They also warned that, should the Ja­panese govern­ment make an an­nounce­ment that erodes the state­ment, the Seoul govern­ment would dis­close his­tor­i­cal documents prov­ing the in­volve­ment of the Ja­panese govern­ment and mil­i­tary in run­ning front­line broth­els.

Abe should make a wise de­ci­sion and not un­der­mine the state­ment so as to avoid fur­ther alien­at­ing Ja­pan from the rest of the coun­tries in the re­gion.

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