Assembly blasts Abe, shrine visits

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Assembly blasts Abe, shrine visits

Korean lawmakers adopted a resolution denouncing the recent visits of Japanese politicians to Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni shrine and nationalistic comments by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties who are members of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee unanimously agreed on adoption of the resolution in which they “strongly condemn” Abe’s “irrational misbehavior and reckless words.”

“Such high-profile figures should stop their foolish, reckless denial of indisputable history and the irrational misbehavior of paying respects to war criminals of the Pacific War,” the resolutions said. “We strongly urge them to thoroughly reflect on the past of Japan, which caused miserable suffering to a myriad of people and make a sincere apology from the bottom of their hearts.”

The resolution followed comments by Abe on Wednesday that seemed to deny imperial Japan’s invasion of some Asian countries, including Korea and China, before and during World War II. Abe also said he wouldn’t repeat the so-called Murayama statement of 1995 in which former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama apologized for Japan’s wartime crimes.

On the same day, a total of 169 Japanese politicians paid a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where Japan’s war dead and Class-A criminals are enshrined.

Some local media in Japan lashed out at Abe’s comments.

The Mainichi Shimbun said in an editorial entitled “Questions on Prime Minister’s Perception of History”: “If Abe tries to show a negative opinion of the Murayama statement with his approval rating of about 70 percent, it won’t be sustainable.

“Whatever international law says about the definition of an invasion, it is a historical fact that Japan committed colonial rule and invasions in the past,” the editorial said. “If the prime minister attempts to distort the fact, it would be a problem.”

The Asahi Shimbun said in an English-language editorial, “Putting aside stalled talks on a trilateral free trade agreement between Japan, South Korea and China, it has become apparent that South Korea is getting closer to China, leaving Japan behind .?.?. Washington could hardly consider Tokyo a reliable ally so long as the latter continues to act on certain sentiments that represent only a part of the nation, playing havoc with regional diplomacy.”

Washington also expressed concerns over the deepening diplomatic rows between Japan and its Asian neighbors. Kyodo News, a state-controlled news agency in Japan, said in an English-language dispatch Thursday that Washington has “informally conveyed concern to Tokyo over controversial remarks by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the country’s history, as well as his cabinet members’ recent visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine,” citing diplomatic sources.

“We hope the countries in the region can work together to resolve their differences in an amicable way and through dialogue,” Patrick Ventrell, the acting deputy spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, said at a daily briefing Thursday. “We also had other countries like China and South Korea that expressed some concerns, and we believe that strong and constructive relations between the countries in the region promote peace and stability. And so we’ll continue to urge that. And we talk to the Japanese, both here at their embassy and obviously out at our embassy in Tokyo all the time.”

In the midst of rising international criticisms, Abe said yesterday that he doesn’t want “history issues to cause diplomatic rows,” apparently backpedaling from his far-right, nationalist approach. “I don’t want matters regarding history perception to become a diplomatic, political problem,” he said at a Diet meeting yesterday. “It is proper to assign this kind of matter to historians or experts.”

By Kim Hee-jin []
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