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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 December 26 - 2013 January 8  > Abe’s intent to deny Japan’s past war of aggression invites isolation from international community
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2012 December 26 - 2013 January 8 TOP3 [HISTORY]

Abe’s intent to deny Japan’s past war of aggression invites isolation from international community

January 5, 2013
Akahata editorial

Just after the new administration was inaugurated at the end of last year, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in a Sankei Shimbun interview expressed his intent to review the 1995 Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi statement which displayed a remorse for pre-war Japan’s “acts of aggression and colonial rules” and the 1993 Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei statement which offered an apology in regard to the so-called “comfort women” issue.

This announcement by Abe has provoked criticism both domestically and internationally. The New York Times on January 2, 2013 ran an editorial which criticizes Abe by stating that he “seems inclined to start his tenure with a serious mistake that would inflame tensions with South Korea and make cooperation harder.”

International community will not accept Abe’s moves to the right

Abe is a pure “pro-Yasukuni” advocate. He glorifies Japan’s past war of aggression and honors class-A war criminals. He says that they are not war criminals under domestic law. Regarding the so-called “comfort women” issue, he argues that there is no evidence to support the claim that those women were taken away from their homes by force and insists that the “apology” should be reconsidered.

The Murayama Statement was issued by Prime Minister Murayama on the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII through cabinet approval. The statement expressed apologies stating, “Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”

After the war, Japan was allowed to reenter international society by accepting the premise that Japan admits its responsibility for the past war of aggression and colonial rule over neighboring countries and shows remorse for these past acts. Abe, however, intends to revise the Murayama Statement, “I want to issue a new statement, which is appropriate for the 21st century, under my forward-looking Cabinet.” It is inevitable that Abe’s moves will be considered as betrayal of the world community.

Prime Minister Abe cannot openly call for revising the Murayama Statement since it was approved by the cabinet. Therefore, in order to take teeth out of the 1995 statement, he is coming forth with his own “Abe Statement.”

On the other hand, the prime minister openly calls for the revision of the Kono Statement, which does not have cabinet approval. The statement, however, was published based on the government’s own research which concluded that the Japanese Army had been directly or indirectly involved in the establishment and management of brothels as well as the transport of comfort women.

Abe criticizes the Kono Statement by saying that nothing has been legally proven to have been coercion by the Japanese Army in a narrow sense.

In March 2007, Abe’s first cabinet faced severe criticism from inside and outside Japan when it adopted a statement that denied “coercion in a narrow sense.” Abe then had to promise when he visited the United States that he would stand by the Kono Statement.

Some Japanese public figures trying to justify the past war of aggression issued an advocacy ad in a U.S. paper, insisting that there had been no coercion involved in the wartime sex slavery. After the publication, the U.S., Holland, Canada, and the EU adopted resolutions in protest against this action.

The New York Time’s editorial said, “Any attempt to deny the crimes and dilute the apologies will outrage South Korea, as well as China and the Philippines, which all suffered under Japan’s brutal wartime rule.”

Prime Minister Abe should be aware that his remarks disputing the historical facts will meet with severe criticism from other Asian countries as well as the rest of the world.
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