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Statement on the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II

post date : 2015.08.28

Statement on the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II


Vol. 9, August 28, 2015


Asahi: “Abe’s war anniversary statement falls way short of the mark”

Sankei: “Global contribution is Japan’s path, end the cycle of apologetic diplomacy”

Nikkei: “What is important is what will be done based on the 70th anniversary statement”

Mainichi: “Japan should break away from historical revision”

Yomiuri: “Let’s take to our hearts the lessons of history”


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at a press conference held on August 14.


As Abe drafted his statement, much attention was focused on whether he would include “aggression,” “colonial rule,” “deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology”— expressions included in the Murayama statement issued on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war —in his statement.


 The statement referred to the focal points of “aggression” and “colonial rule” by saying: “Incident, aggression, war—we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.”


The prime minister, pointing out that Japan has repeatedly expressed deep remorse and heartfelt apology, said: “Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.” He followed by saying “We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.”


The five national dailies discussed the Abe statement on their editorials on August 15, but their evaluations were widely divided.


■ Touching on the past

Pointing out the term “aggression” was included in the statement, The Yomiuri Shimbun said, “We positively evaluate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement … for clearly showing the new course Japan will take based on its remorse for the war.”


While stressing that Japan “must never forget that the then Japanese government allowed part of the military to act on its own and ignited the disastrous war,” The Yomiuri said: “Admitting the objective fact of ‘aggression’ is not a masochistic view of history nor will it disgrace Japan. Rather, it will increase the trust of the international community in Japan and overcome the doubts of some countries that Japan is engaged in ‘historical revisionism.’”


The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) pointed out there was speculation that the Abe statement would rewrite major portions of the Murayama statement and said, “We welcome the fact that the statement eventually contained sensible wording in general.”


The Asahi Shimbun, in a sharp contrast, started by criticizing that the Abe Statement “left us wondering for what purpose and for whom it was written.” “… the statement somewhat obscures the fact that Japan was the country that committed the aggression and carried out colonial rule,” The Asahi said. “The document referred to remorse and apology for the war only indirectly by mentioning the fact that past Cabinets expressed these sentiments.”


 “We feel strongly that the Abe administration did not have to issue, or rather, should not have issued this flawed statement.”


The Asahi also said the statement is a “back down” from how past prime ministers of the Liberal Democratic Party, who held office before Tomiichi Murayama, described Japan’s wartime actions. “These leaders said to the effect that there was no denying Japan’s aggressive acts, even if they didn’t use the word ‘aggression.’”


The Mainichi Shimbun, meanwhile, evaluated the prime minister’s statement as follows: “Prime Minister Abe included ‘deep remorse’ and ‘the utmost grief’ in his statement. However, his statement suggests that he is not sufficiently enthusiastic about historical perceptions and reconciliation with Japan’s neighbors.”


 “The statement appears as if it were made by candy-coating the Murayama statement,” The Mainichi said. “This is apparently because Abe carefully worded his statement so that it would not stir criticism from the United States, China and other countries while showing consideration to rightist forces that are his main supporters.”


“As a consequence, however, it is unclear to whom and for what goals the Abe statement was issued,” the daily said.


The Sankei Shimbun said that “Over 80% of the population was born after the war. The prime minister’s belief that even though history should not be forgotten, apologies should not be required going forward is reasonable.”



■ Future-oriented  

All national dailies, except The Asahi, discussed Japan’s diplomacy after the issuance of the Abe statement.


The Nikkei urged the prime minister to “concentrate on examining how Japan can build future-oriented diplomatic relations, rather than focusing on the details of history.” Regarding future relations with China, in addition to encouraging Abe to visit China, the paper said “As he attempted to in the statement, he should also send a message to the people of China while he is there, and create the foundation for new future-oriented Japan-China relations.”


The Yomiuri, referring to Japan’s role in international society, said “Hoisting the flag of ‘Proactive Contribution to Peace,’ Japan must contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.” The paper emphasized that “As expressed in the statement, Japan is required to ‘lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.’”


The Sankei said that “It is natural [for the statement] to position Japan as a defender of international order,” and stated that “Improving cooperation on security aspects is also vital. The creation of new security legislation is part of those efforts.” The paper also said “It is essential to take the issuance of this statement as an opportunity to put an end to ‘apology diplomacy,’” and noted that “The prime minister took on a heavy responsibility in order to put an end to apology diplomacy, which had been negatively affecting Japanese citizens.”


The Mainichi said Japan should “break away from historical revisionism, an attempt to voice objection to and alter established historical interpretations.”


“Even after the anniversary, Japan must continue its efforts to reconcile with its Asian neighbors,” The Mainichi said. “If Japan maintains its modesty in diplomacy and faces its own moral responsibility, it will eventually contribute to peace in Asia.”


Regarding Japan’s relations with neighboring countries, The Asahi said that “Japan itself has done things that undermine the credibility of its own words,” and argued that “Abe has been stressing the need to adopt a future-oriented attitude toward history. But making the present and the future better than the past requires coming to terms with the past.” Giving Yasukuni Shrine and how to mourn war dead as examples, the paper criticized that “there are still many problems concerning Japan’s past that have been left unsolved, despite the urgent need to settle them.”


*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively.  Those for The Nikkei and The Sankei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.

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