Ja­pan em­peror’s WWII ‘re­morse’ a prod to Abe: com­men­ta­tor

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Ja­pan’s Em­peror Ak­i­hito has told Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino his coun­try feels “re­morse” for its ac­tions dur­ing World War II, in what one com­men­ta­tor said was a prod to na­tion­al­ist Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

Ak­i­hito’s role is nar­rowly de­fined and he is ex­pected to stay above the fray, so any re­marks he makes that stray into the po­lit­i­cal — how­ever obliquely — are parsed for pos­si­ble mean­ing.

In a speech wel­com­ing Aquino to a palace ban­quet late Wed­nes­day, Ak­i­hito noted there were ac­tive ties be­tween Tokyo and Manila by the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury.

“Dur­ing World War II, how­ever, fierce bat­tles be­tween Ja­pan and the United States took place on Philip­pine soil, re­sult­ing in the loss of many Filipino lives.

“This is some­thing we Ja­panese must long re­mem­ber with a pro­found sense of re­morse,” he said, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial English trans­la­tion pro­vided by the Im­pe­rial House­hold Agency.

“In par­tic­u­lar, in this year of the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II, I of­fer my deep­est con­do­lences to all those who lost their lives then,” he said.

His re­mark comes as Abe pre­pares a state­ment he is ex­pected to de­liver in Au­gust, which is be­ing closely watched for any sign of what crit­ics say is back­slid­ing on pre­vi­ous Ja­panese apolo­gies.

Abe’s pre­de­ces­sors of­fered apolo­gies for colo­nial rule and ag­gres­sion on the 50th and 60th an­niver­saries, but he has hinted he is un­likely to re­peat that, say­ing in­stead he wants to is­sue a “for­ward-look­ing” state­ment.

That sen­ti­ment has caused dis­quiet among Ja­panese lib­er­als and anger in Bei­jing and Seoul, which in­sist Tokyo needs to say sorry for its war his­tory.

Akira Hashimoto, a vet­eran jour­nal­ist on royal mat­ters and a for­mer school­mate of the em­peror, said Aquino’s visit had given the nom­i­nal head of state “an op­por­tu­nity to ex­press his opin­ion” that Ja­pan should squarely ad­mit its past wrong­do­ing.

The em­peror “is striv­ing to have the mes­sage heard,” Hashimoto said.



his Majesty wanted Prime Min­is­ter Abe, rather than the Ja­panese peo­ple or peo­ple in other coun­tries, to hear,” he told AFP.

The mass-sell­ing Yomi­uri Shimbun noted that Wed­nes­day’s palace ban­quet was the third for Philip­pine guests since Ak­i­hito as­cended to the throne, but was the first at which he had touched on the hu­man cost of the con­flict there.

The em­peror “has al­ways rec­og­nized Ja­pan took wrong­ful ac­tions dur­ing WWII and has felt deep re­morse over the tragedies it brought about ... His view has never wa­vered,” the pun­dit said.

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