Abe and Aso’s sophistryJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made shocking remarks at the Diet yesterday. To a question on his views of former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama’s 1995 apology for Imperial Japan’s invasion and colonization of Asian lands, he answered that the definition of invasion is not fixed academically or internationally and can mean different things depending on which country uses it: The invader or the invaded. That sounds like a negation of Japan’s accountability for the invasion of Korea and its 36-year colonial rule. Such sophistry illustrates Abe’s intention to deny Japan’s history of aggression. We wonder if he has lost his senses after being intoxicated with an over 70 percent approval rating.
In a statement on August 15, 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, Murayama accepted Japan’s responsibility for atrocious aggression and colonization. He expressed sincere contrition for all the damage and pain Japan’s colonial rule had brought to Asians by humbly accepting the historical facts. The Murayama statement inarguably contributed to efforts to seek future cooperation among Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo in the 21st century, despite recurring territorial disputes.
Abe attempts to turn the clock back.
Abe’s announcement that he will reject Murayama’s approach (and a similar statement by Junichiro Koizumi ten years later) and prepare a new statement for Asia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ending of the war in 2015 signals a dangerous path for Japan in the future.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, the No. 2 man in the Abe cabinet and a former prime minister himself, shares the same dangerous view. On a visit to the Blue House after attending President Park Geun-hye’s inauguration as an envoy, Aso reportedly said it is natural for the two countries to disagree on their past when you consider the huge gap between southerners and northerners in the United States over its Civil War. In fact, you can’t compare a colonization to a civil war sparked by the issue of slavery. It is very unfortunate that people with such regressive minds are leading Japan now. As one of the countries invaded by Japan, we can assure both Abe and Aso that we know the definition of the word invasion, and so does the rest of the world. It’s time they admit the simple, brutal truth of Japan’s past.