(Sankei: March 12, 2015 – p.2)
In response to German Chancellor Merkel’s remarks on the issue of perception of history, there are some voices heard both inside and outside Japan that the remarks “urged the country to reflect upon the past.”
We wonder whether those voices are not interpreting the remarks to suit their convenience. We should not get fooled by such political propaganda intended to demean Japan.
In the joint press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held on March 9, Chancellor Merkel said, “Reexamining the past is the premise for reconciliation.” South Korean newspapers reported that the chancellor urged Prime Minister Abe to reflect upon the past. Prior to the summit meeting with Abe, Chancellor Merkel said in her speech delivered in Tokyo, “The neighboring countries’ generous manner made the reconciliation possible.”
In response to these remarks, a spokesperson of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, “Unless a sincere remorsefulness comes first, generosity cannot be expressed.”
With those remarks, Chancellor Merkel explained how the bilateral relationship between Germany and France after World War II improved. There is a view that the chancellor intended to urge Japan to face the past with neighboring countries. However, although both Japan and Germany are defeated nations, the two countries took different paths during the war and in methods of the postwar settlement.
According to the Democratic Party of Japan, Chancellor Merkel urged the party representative Katsuya Okada to solve the comfort women issue in their meeting held on March 10. In response to Okada who told the chancellor, “The situation is not sufficient for saying reconciliation with China and the Republic of Korea has been accomplished,” the chancellor reportedly said, “It is necessary to constantly face the past.”
The issue of the postwar settlement with South Korea was already solved legally in accordance with the Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning the Settlement of Problems in Regard to Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation that was signed in 1965. As for the comfort women issue, Japan has done as much as it could including the payment of compensation to former comfort women through the Asian Women’s Fund and successive primer ministers’ expressions of deep sympathy with comfort women about their condition of life. We wonder if Okada was fully able to explain to the chancellor such efforts by the Japanese government.
As both China and South Korea are increasingly becoming watchful about Prime Minister Abe’s postwar 70th anniversary statement to be announced in August, we are concerned they may take advantage of Chancellor Merkel’s remarks to further contain the Abe administration.
In relation to the chancellor’s remarks, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said (the upcoming statement will follow) “the same acknowledgement that Japan caused many countries, especially, Asian nations, enormous damage and pain,” and “it is inappropriate to simply compare Japan with Germany.” Foreign Minister Kishida is correct, and weexpect him to continue delivering appropriate remarks about Japan’s postwar settlement and consistent contribution to peace after the war.