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Abe's tepid offering of remorse at Asian-African summit bad omen for WWII anniversary statement

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday expressed his "deep remorse" for some of Japan's atrocities during Word War II, but he eschewed referencing key phrases from previous war statements.

Addressing a summit of Asian and African leaders as part of events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference, also known as the Bandung Conference, the Japanese leader stopped short of mentioning key words and phrases that have become synonymous with Japan's internationally-accepted war statement.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and in August Abe will make a statement based on this most auspicious occasion and the statement has been attracting a great deal of attention from Japan's neighbors, who were brutalized by Japan's Imperial Army during WWII.

China and South Korea, which both suffered immeasurably, have been watching the build-up to Abe's statement, along with the rest of the world, with great interest. The 70th anniversary of the end of WWII this summer comes at a time when Japan's revisionist take on history and tendency to whitewash its wrongdoings.

In addition, certain factions have flat-out denied the historically irrefutable occurrences of travesties inflict by Imperial Japan on its victims, such as the "comfort women" and the Nanjing Massacre.

In Jakarta, Japan's leader said Japan, with feelings of "deep remorse" over the past war, pledged to always adhere to those very principles throughout.

But there were some expressions conspicuously absent from Abe's speech that could represented an ominous omen for his actual war speech on the day of the anniversary. Historically, Japanese leaders have used the Bandung Conference as a prelude to test-run their upcoming war statements.

In which case, Abe has deliberately chosen to use the phrase " deep remorse," but omitted the phrases "heartfelt apology to the people of Asian nations affected by Japan's colonial rule and aggression" during and before the war.

These phrases were introduced by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on Aug. 15, 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary of the war 's end and became a benchmark of Japan's apology to its neighbors and the world for its heinous wartime, militaristic actions.

The content of this speech was repeated verbatim by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during his statement on the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII, which has become the Japanese government's modus operandi.

But political observers believe that Abe, a staunch nationalist and active revisionist, along with the majority of his cabinet and a horde of lawmakers, is not planning to follow in his predecessors' footsteps.

"The prime minister has already said that he upholds the Murayama Statement as a whole and therefore does not feel the need to repeat it," Asian affairs analyst Kaoru Imori told Xinhua. "But the problem with this is, it's no use simply saying that you ' uphold' something without doing anything tangible to prove it."

He added that the victims of Japan's wartime wrongdoings, such as China and South Korea, were undoubtedly and perhaps for the first time since Abe took office, looking for a glimpse of humanity in Abe, who has set about whitewashing over Japan's past while simultaneously beefing up its military.

"The 70th anniversary of the end of WWII is a golden opportunity for Abe to reach out to his neighbors with honor and dignity, in the same way his predecessors did," said Imori.

Living legend and Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, known to be extremely reclusive, told local media recently that he believes that Japan must repeatedly say sorry to China, South Korea and the other countries it invaded in the 20th century until its former victims have heard enough.

Murakami, often been mentioned as a possible recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, said, "The issue of historical understanding carries great significance, and I believe it is important that Japan makes straightforward apologies."

Even Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito who on the occasion of his 55th birthday encouraged the government led by Abe to maintain a correct view of history and to put an end to a stream of seemingly elusive revisionist maneuverings

"I myself did not experience the war ... but I think that it is important today, when memories of the war are fading, to look back humbly on the past and correctly pass on the tragic experiences and history Japan pursued from the generation which experienced the war to those without direct knowledge," he said.

In addition, earlier Wednesday former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama took a swipe at Abe.

"If he does not want to use such clear-cut words (such as Japan 's wartime 'colonial rule and aggression' that caused suffering to neighboring countries), he had better not issue a statement at all. "

[Source: By Jon Day, Xinhua, Tokyo, 22Apr15]

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small logoThis document has been published on 23Apr15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.