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Japan's New Leader 'Must Be Honest About History'
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The new prime minister of Japan must be honest about Japan's history in the Second World War, The Washington Post said in an editorial on Monday.

"In its long march from military catastrophe to heavyweight status, postwar Japan has oscillated between two kinds of errors," the editorial said.

"Japan's left wing has been honest about the past but irresponsible about the present. It has shown remorse for atrocities committed by Japanese troops in East Asia in the 1930s but has been reluctant to see Japan's emergence from its pacifist shell and making contributions to international security," the editorial said.

As for the right wing, the editorial added that "the right has made the opposite mistake: it has pushed for Japan to take more responsibility for defense but has glossed over Japan's war guilt. Since taking office in 2001, Junichiro Koizumi has tended to make the right-wing mistake."

"Koizumi insisted on visiting the Yashukuni Shrine commemorating Japan's war dead, including its war criminals, and during his term, some government-approved textbooks whitewashed Japan's war record. This unnecessarily inflamed anti-Japanese sentiments among its neighboring countries," the editorial said.

"If Japan admits past errors, it will gain acceptance as a responsible democracy, and its muscular foreign policy will be treated as legitimate. But if it professes to see nothing wrong in its past record, its efforts to assert itself on security and diplomatic question will raise tensions with neighbors, undermining regional security rather than contributing to it," the editorial concluded.

Last Wednesday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe was elected the 21st president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and will naturally succeed Junichiro Koizumi as Japan's next prime minister.

(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2006)

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