Abe apol­ogy called key for re­gion’s ties

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG CHUNYAN in Lon­don, ZHAO YANRONG in Bangkok and ZHANG YUNBI in Bei­jing

An­a­lysts in Europe and Asia stressed the im­por­tance of Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe sin­cerely apol­o­giz­ing for Ja­pan’s wartime atroc­i­ties in his state­ment on Fri­day mark­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II.

“Ac­knowl­edg­ment of Ja­pan’s his­toric con­duct in the re­gion is im­por­tant to im­prov­ing ties with its neigh­bors,” Richard Ca­plan, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford, told China Daily.

Abe con­firmed on Wed­nes­day that he will “con­vey to the world the re­morse for the past war,” Ky­odo News agency re­ported.

Kavi Chongkit­ta­vorn, a se­nior fel­low at the In­sti­tute of Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies at Chu­la­longkorn Univer­sity in Thai­land, said Abe should fol­low the foot­steps of his pre­de­ces­sors, es­pe­cially for­mer prime min­is­ter Tomi­ichi Mu­rayama, who ex­pressed deep re­morse in 1995.

“Oth­er­wise, it would ren­der longterm neg­a­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions not only to the Asian re­gion’s most im­por­tant bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, but im­pact peace and sta­bil­ity in the whole re­gion, es­pe­cially ASEAN,” Chongkit­ta­vorn said.

“Abe is a na­tion­al­ist when it comes to the de­fense of Ja­pan,” he added. “Ja­pan has main­tained the paci­fist path af­ter WWII, but now the fu­ture is hang­ing in the bal­ance be­cause of the new at­ti­tude of Abe.”

Ni­cola Cas­sarini, a se­nior fel­low for Asia at the In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs in Italy, said, “It needs to be re­mem­bered that when Ger­man pol­i­cy­mak­ers apol­o­gized for the deeds done by Nazi Ger­many, they not only did it to heal the past wounds in­flicted on the other peo­ples of Europe, but also be­cause they had a pro­ject in mind for the fu­ture of Europe.”

On Dec 7, 1970, then-Ger­man chan­cel­lor Willy Brandt laid a wreath at the me­mo­rial of the Jewish ghetto in War­saw and fell to his knees in front

The fu­ture is hang­ing in the bal­ance be­cause of the new at­ti­tude of (Shinzo) Abe.”

of the me­mo­rial.

“He was not only in­tent on re­pair­ing the past, but also on lay­ing the foun­da­tion of a dif­fer­ent — and bet­ter — fu­ture for the Euro­pean con­ti­nent,” Cas­sarini said.

Bam­bang Sury­ono, chief editor of Har­ian InHua, a ma­jor Chi­nese news­pa­per in In­done­sia, said: “Whether Abe is go­ing to in­clude key words such as ‘ag­gres­sion’ and ‘apol­ogy’ from the Mu­rayama State­ment se­ri­ously mat­ters for Ja­pan to achieve rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with its Asian neigh­bors.”

Chris Og­den, se­nior lec­turer in Asian se­cu­rity at the Univer­sity of St. An­drews, said the state­ment comes as le­gal changes are un­der­way in Ja­pan that would ex­pand the role of its mil­i­tary and over­ride the paci­fist ten­den­cies set out by its con­sti­tu­tion.

Ja­pan’s in­creas­ingly rad­i­cal de­fense pol­icy has also clouded ex­perts’ hopes on the in­flu­ence of Abe’s state­ment. In mid-July, the lower house of Ja­pan’s Par­lia­ment ap­proved two con­tro­ver­sial bills that would change the coun­try’s se­cu­rity laws, though they still need ap­proval from the up­per house.

Ac­knowl­edg­ment of Ja­pan’s his­toric con­duct in the re­gion is im­por­tant to im­prov­ing ties with its neigh­bors.”

Richard Ca­plan, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ox­ford Univer­sity. Chang Jun in Los An­ge­les con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writer through zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily. com.cn

Kavi Chongkit­ta­vorn, In­sti­tute of Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies

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