Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made it even clearer that he does not intend to mention “deep remorse” for Japan’s colonization of Korea in an upcoming government statement, called the “Abe Statement.”
On Jan. 25, Abe appeared on Sunday Debate, a morning talk show on Japanese broadcaster NHK.
During the show, Abe was asked whether the Abe Statement, which the Japanese government is planning to issue to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, will contain statements about “colonial rule and aggression,” “deep remorse,” and “heartfelt apology,” phrases that appeared in the Murayama Statement in 1995 and a statement by then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2005.
“The point is not whether or not we will use expressions that have been used in the past but rather to make a statement that reflects the perspective of this administration on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the war,” Abe said.
When the host of the talk show asked if this meant that Abe would definitely not be using the key phrases included in past statements (remorse for Japan‘s colonial rule and aggression), Abe said that that was correct.
This is the first time that Abe has stated directly that he will not include a phrase about Japan’s remorse for colonization and wars of aggression in the new statement.
In a statement issued on 1995, the 50th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the war, then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said, “During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy [. . .] through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. I [. . .] express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology.”
Then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi omitted the phrase about “a mistaken national policy” in a statement issued on the 60th anniversary of the war’s end in 2005 but maintained the larger message of the Murayama Statement.
These two statements served as a springboard for Japan to establish friendly relations with its neighbors, including South Korea and China.
“I continue to fully endorse the statements made in the past,” Abe said on Saturday, indicating that he was not contradicting what was said in previous statements.
While attempting to minimize the diplomatic backlash expected if Japan retracts the Murayama Statement, Abe seems to be indicating that he will instead release a statement that undermines the previous statement’s message.
By Gil Yun-hyung, Tokyo correspondent
Please direct questions or comments to [firstname.lastname@example.org]