Abe says he will ex­press ‘re­morse’ over WWII

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said Thurs­day he would ex­press “re­morse” over World War II this month, as a gov­ern­ment panel con­demned the coun­try’s past ag­gres­sion against its Asian neigh­bors.

Abe is pre­par­ing his closely watched re­marks for the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of the war, ex­pected to be re­leased ahead of Au­gust 15, the date Ja­pan sur­ren­dered to the Al­lies.

The word­ing of Abe’s state­ment will be heav­ily scru­ti­nized by main­land China and Korea, which still dis­pute Tokyo’s ver­sion of its wartime history and who are wait­ing to see if he re­peats ear­lier apolo­gies for Ja­pan’s mil­i­tarism in the 20th Cen­tury.

“I will ex­press re­morse over the past war, our post-war path as a paci­fist na­tion, and how Ja­pan should fur­ther con­trib­ute to the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion and the world in the fu­ture,” Abe told re­porters.

The na­tion­al­ist leader, whose gov­ern­ment has pushed through con­tro­ver­sial re­forms to ex­pand the role of Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary, also said he would fol­low pre­vi­ous ex­plicit prime min­is­te­rial apolo­gies over the coun­try’s past “as a whole.”

Abe has re­peat­edly talked of the need for what he calls a “for­ward­look­ing at­ti­tude” that con­cen­trates on the pos­i­tive role Ja­pan has played — and con­tin­ues to play — in Asia since its sur­ren­der in 1945.

That has set alarm bells ring­ing in China and Korea, which suf­fered un­der Ja­pan’s im­pe­rial ex­pan­sion and say any at­tempt to tone down ex­plicit apolo­gies made by pre­vi­ous lead­ers should be dis­cour­aged.

‘The re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment ... are

very se­ri­ous’

Abe’s com­ments Thurs­day, on the 70th an­niver­sary of the Hiroshima atomic bomb­ing, came the same day as a panel set up to ad­vise on the word­ing of the war state­ment con­demned Ja­pan’s colo­nial past.

Ja­pan col­o­nized the Korean penin­sula from 1910 to 1945, and the group also pointed to the coun­try’s ag­gres­sion in China from 1931.

China says more than 20 mil­lion of its cit­i­zens died as a re­sult of Ja­pan’s in­va­sion, oc­cu­pa­tion and atroc­i­ties.

Ja­pan “caused much harm to var­i­ous coun­tries, largely in Asia, through a reck­less war,” the 38-page re­port said.

“Colo­nial rule be­came par­tic­u­larly harsh from the sec­ond half of the 1930s,” it said, re­fer­ring to Ja­pan’s im­pe­rial march across Asia.

“The re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary lead­ers from the 1930s and be­yond are very se­ri­ous in­deed.”

The 16-mem­ber panel made up of mostly aca­demics and jour­nal­ists also dis­pensed with claims from some on Ja­pan’s right that it had lib­er­ated Asian na­tions from Western pow­ers.

“It is in­ac­cu­rate to claim that Ja­pan fought to lib­er­ate Asia as a mat­ter of na­tional pol­icy,” it said, call­ing for “rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” with China and Korea.

In a land­mark ad­dress to a joint ses­sion of the U.S. Congress in April, Abe ex­pressed his “deep re­morse” over Ja­pan’s ac­tions to­wards neigh­bor­ing Asian na­tions dur­ing World War II.

But he stopped short of a full apol­ogy de­manded by Bei­jing and Seoul, es­pe­cially over the forced re­cruit­ment of so-called “com­fort women” to serve Ja­panese sol­diers in mil­i­tary broth­els.

A land­mark 1995 state­ment by then premier Tomi­ichi Mu­rayama stated his feel­ings of “deep re­morse” and “heart­felt apol­ogy.”

The so-called Mu­rayama State­ment said Ja­pan “through its colo­nial rule and ag­gres­sion, caused tremen­dous dam­age and suf­fer­ing to the peo­ple of many coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly to those of Asian na­tions.”

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