Despite Abe, Japan to maintain stance on history

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Despite Abe, Japan to maintain stance on history

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일본의 아베 내각 출범 이틀째인 27일 아베 신조 총리가 도쿄 중의원(하원) 본회의장에서 열린 전체회의 도중 생각에 잠겨 있다. [도쿄 AP=연합뉴스]

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s new chief cabinet secretary, said in a press conference late Wednesday that the government under the far-right Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will stick to a statement issued in 1995 that admits its colonial rule and aggression against its Asian neighbors, including Korea.

“Even when the Abe cabinet led the country in 2006, we expressed our position that we will follow the stances of previous governments [acknowledging the 1995 statement],” Suga, the top government spokesman, said on Wednesday following the announcement of Abe’s cabinet lineup.

“This time, we will also stick to the stances of previous governments.”

The so-called Murayama statement was issued in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War.

The statement reads “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.”

The Murayama statement has been considered throughout the years as Japan’s official position on the Pacific War regardless of which political party is in control.

“In the hope that no such mistake will be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology,” the statement read.

“Allow me to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history.”

Suga’s remarks are seen as a move stepping back from Abe’s firm, far-right stance on issues related to war history.

In September, when Abe was campaigning to be elected as the head of the LDP, he raised an objection to the Murayama statement. But after he has been inaugurated officially as prime minister, he has reversed his position, which analysts say is a political move.

“Abe is expected to delay or scrap pledges he made in the past that he thinks will create a big conflict with neighboring countries,” said an analyst.

“But he will push forward with pledges that are difficult to compromise on to gain votes in the parliament’s upper house election in July.”

In regards to the Yohei Kono statement issued in 1993, for example, which acknowledged the forced recruitment of women into sexual slavery and apologized to the victims, Suga yesterday expressed an ambiguous position by saying that the newly launched Abe government will hold a review.

Abe has argued throughout his campaign that the statement, which was issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, should be amended.

“We should not handle the issue of amending the Kono statement with a political and diplomatic approach,” Suga said.

“Research is currently being studied by historians and experts, and it is only right that [such research on amending the Kono statement] continue.”

Responding to Japan’s rather ambiguous statement on the issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade once again urged Japan yesterday to seek “satisfactory” solutions for the victims.


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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