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Shii questions Abe's view of history

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on October 6 questioned Prime Minister Abe Shinzo about his understanding of history because Abe has refused to speak about his historical views since his assumption of office.

Shii pointed out that the adoption of an appropriate stance on Japan's past war of aggression and colonial rule is an indispensable prerequisite for establishing truly friendly relationships with other Asian countries and for getting along with other members of the Asian community as well as the international community on the basis of the postwar international order.

In reply to Shii's question concerning Yasukuni Shrine's historical view glorifying Japan's wars, however, Abe once more refused to give his own judgment by saying, "Politicians must be humble in talking about history."

Shii criticized Abe, saying, "It is not humble but irresponsible for you to refuse to speak about your view of history," adding that the prime minister's remarks contradict what he had previously stated in support of a specific view of history and acted for.

Firstly, Abe used to be the acting secretary general of the Parliamentarians' League on the 50th Year of War's End established in 1994, which insisted that Japan waged the war "in self-defense for Japan's existence and for the peace of Asia." This group denounced a resolution the Diet adopted on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war's end as a "masochistic view of history," and Abe absented himself from the House of Representatives Plenary Session to vote on this resolution.

Pointing out that before his assumption of office Abe had acted in accordance with a position that acknowledging the aggression or colonial rule is nothing other than a "masochistic view of history," Shii asked Abe for his explanation of this contradiction.

Abe said, "Since you cited such an old document of the parliamentary league without prior notice, I have no way to respond to your question."

Shii stated, "Your response clearly reveals that the view of history you are holding is something that you as prime minister cannot openly talk about."

Secondly, Shii took up the 1995 Murayama Statement, the crux of which was admission of the fact that Japan advanced along the road to war by "following a mistaken national policy."

Pointing out that the "mistaken national policy" was the policy aiming at Japan's territorial expansion and rule of other nations, Shii explained in detail the three landmark government decisions that paved the way for the war of aggression against China as well as the Pacific War.

Abe only stated, "The government is not in a position to judge specific historical facts. It is historians that make analyses."

Shii refuted the response by stating, "You have refused even to admit historical facts by saying, 'Leave it to historians.' This is an attitude that rejects true reflection on the past war."

Thirdly, Shii asked Abe about his position concerning the 1993 Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei Statement on the issue of "comfort women" that had recognized involvement of and coercion by the Japanese military.

In the light of Abe's recent statement that his cabinet inherits the Kono Statement, Shii stated that Abe must acknowledge as mistakes his past positions of attacking the Kono Statement as groundless and demanding that references to the "comfort women" be deleted from textbooks. Shii demanded that Abe apologize to the victims.

By stating, "Nothing has proved to be coercion in its narrow sense," Abe denied the Kono Statement admitting the fact that the "comfort women" were recruited against their own will, through coercion.

Stressing that the statement admitted the coercion, including what the prime minister referred to as "coercion in its narrow sense" based on a government study, Shii criticized Abe for his refusal to admit the coercion.

Concerning worsening living conditions of the elderly due to increases in taxes and having to shoulder heavier burdens for welfare services, Shii gave the examples of an aged person living alone in Tokyo. His amount of payment for taxes and National Health Insurance premiums will jump from 64,000 yen in FY 2004 to 268,000 yen in FY 2008.

The JCP chair urged the government to stop implementing such an extraordinary tax increase plan.
- Akahata, October 7, 2006

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