(Sankei: August 7, 2015 – p. 2)
The Advisory Panel on the History of the 20th Century and on Japan’s Role and the World Order in the 21st Century set up by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the drafting of his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has submitted its report.
It is reckoned that based on this report, the Prime Minister will issue his statement right before the anniversary of the end of the war.
The U.S., China, and other countries also take an interest in this statement. We hope that it will be a future-oriented document projecting Japan’s posture of making contributions to the world as a guardian of the international order.
Great wisdom will be required in coining expressions on history that will serve as a stepping stone to the future. The statement of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama which condemned the past one-sidedly has hurt Japan’s reputation and national interest. This mistake must not be repeated.
At his news conference in Hiroshima City on Aug. 6, the Prime Minister stated that the purpose of the statement is to “send out a message to the world on what kind of country Japan intends to become.” He also indicated that he will include in this document “remorse for the past war, Japan’s history as a peaceful country in the postwar period, and its intent to make further contributions to Asia-Pacific and the world.” We think this is appropriate.
The panel’s report cites the importance of maintaining the “international public systems in the second half of the 20th Century,” consisting of peace, rule of law, free trade, and so forth, as an issue Japan needs to tackle.
On the other hand, the report terms Japan’s war after the Manchurian Incident (of 1931) “aggression.” A number of panel members pointed out that the definition of “aggression” under international law is not established or objected to condemning Japan alone for aggression. These opinions are noted in the report.
The debate in the experts’ panel itself demonstrates the fact that there are different interpretations of history. The tendency to take lightly the hardships Japan endured to defend its independence is unfortunate.
China and the ROK are insisting that the statement should include the expression “heartfelt apology,” following the example of the Murayama Statement. However, repeating apologies will not lead to improved relations. We must not forget that on the contrary, this has resulted in the history card being used to attack Japan.
The Prime Minister’s speech to the joint meeting of both houses of the U.S. Congress last April was highly acclaimed even though he did not use the expressions in the Murayama Statement. While he is saying that he will adhere in general to the position of past cabinets, including the Murayama Statement, the government should refrain from being involved with a particular view of history. (Slightly abridged)