Abe's ambiguity on statements harms Japan

By Liu Tian and Feng Wuyong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, March 7, 2014
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Truly following the world-recognized "Murayama Statement" has become a tough test for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration, as the prime minister has increasingly resorted to a game of words on the key issue of Japan's attitude toward its wartime wrongdoings.

 [By Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]

 [By Jiao Haiyang/China.org.cn]

Abe gave yet another show of his conservative right-leaning political stand during an upper house debate on Monday when Masayoshi Nataniya, a lawmaker from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, asked Abe to read word by word some underlined parts of the 1995 statement by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

The few lines, which epitomize the essence of the statement, read "during a certain period in the not too distant past, 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."

However, despite Nataniya's repeated demands, Abe chose to read only "Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations," deliberately leaving out other parts, which shows the previous administration's confession to and reflection on Japan's wartime crimes.

Abe's insincere show exposed his true attitude toward the "Murayama Statement". While he reluctantly admitted the aftermath brought by Japan's wartime aggression and colonial rule, he tried by every means to shirk Japan's responsibility in launching the wars of aggression, and avoided even the mere mentioning of words such as "colonial rule" and "aggression".

A correct perception on history requires not only readiness to bear responsibility for what one has done in the past, but also the courage to look for the root causes of one's wrongdoings. Unfortunately, Abe does not have the courage and sincerity to face up to history and apologize for Japan's wartime atrocities.

"Nobody can deny the Murayama Statement. It has become an international pledge and Japan's national policy," Murayama himself said earlier at Japan National Press Club.

Analysts in Tokyo noted that the landmark statement has been adopted by all prime ministers since the official apology was issued. But much to the consternation of the international community, Abe has pretended to follow the statement, while in fact denying its essence through his play of words. Meanwhile, some right-leaning Japanese politicians aim to undermine the very foundation of "Kono Statement", which admits the Japan's Imperial Army involved in forcing between 200,000 and 400,000 girls and women into sexual slavery in the countries it occupied during the war.

Senior Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yoshitaka Sakurada on Monday denied the existence of the issue of sexual slavery, or "comfort women".

His remark came after the Japanese government decision to set up a team to re-examine the testimonies by some former South Korean "comfort women", which formed the basis of the 1993 statement.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a lower house session on Feb. 28 that "we'd like to launch a team to re-examine and understand the background", adding: "It will be extremely difficult, but it's important to review and see what the situation was."

The recent moves by some Japanese right-leaning politicians should remind the international community that people of the world must sharpen vigilance and try to see through all the tricks Abe and his like play in their attempts to whitewash its wartime history and push Japan onto a dangerous road of challenging post-war international order and endangering peace and stability in the region.

The authors are with Xinhua News Agency.

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