Abe pressed by Ban, Murayama

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Abe pressed by Ban, Murayama

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Japanese leaders Monday to adopt a “broader, future-oriented” perspective to improve relations with neighbors in East Asia angry with Tokyo’s attitude about its violent past.

Noting that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Ban called for the leaders of Korea, China and Japan to resolve the controversy over Japan’s view of history and improve relations.

Ban’s recommendation was made during an interview with Japan’s national broadcaster NHK and aired Monday. Ban is currently visiting Sendai, Japan, for a UN conference on disaster risk reduction.

“[Ban] said historical issues are yet to be resolved and he sincerely hopes the leaders of these countries look to a better future,” NHK reported on its Internet site. “He added that he particularly wants Japanese leaders to have a broader future-oriented vision so that the issues are resolved as soon as possible.”

Ban’s comment came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to issue a statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

It is anticipated that Abe will water down his predecessors’ apologies for Japan’s wartime history, including a landmark 1995 statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. In the so-called Murayama Statement, Japan, for the first time, acknowledged its colonization and aggression in Asia.

Korea and China are criticizing in advance any attempt by Abe to deviate from that statement. Abe has said he wants to issue a more “forward-looking” statement.

Murayama, whose 1995 statement offered “deep remorse” and a “heartfelt apology” to countries that suffered from Japan’s military aggression, also expressed concerns about Abe’s move.

In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun released on Monday, the 91-year-old former prime minister said he has doubts because Abe has not spoken about the specific content of the upcoming statement.

“He also emphasizes a future-oriented view, but the past cannot be cut apart from the future,” Murayama said. “The colonial domination by Japan of Asia and its wartime aggression are historical facts, so it will be important for political leaders to have a vision for the future that is based on a serious reflection on what occurred in the past.

“I realize there are some Japanese who say, ‘How many times do we have to apologize?’ There is also the view that there is no need to pass on a somewhat humiliating history to future generations,” Murayama said. “It might be possible that Abe holds such feelings.”

Murayama noted that Abe in the past called for a “departure from the postwar regime” and said “there is no clear definition of military aggression.”

He expressed concerns about those remarks.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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