For the fifth consecutive year since the start of his second administration, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not mention either the damage that Japan inflicted on other countries in World War II or Japan’s remorse for this in his speech at the national memorial ceremony for the war dead on Aug. 15. This marks a sharp contrast to the Emperor’s use of the expression “deep remorse” since the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in 2015.
Prime ministers before Abe had stated in their speeches that Japan “inflicted tremendous damage and suffering on many countries, particularly countries in Asia” in their references to Japan’s aggression and to show remorse.
Abe did the same during his first administration in 2007 but changed tack at the start of his second administration. Since 2015, including this year, he has stated that Japan is “a country that abhors war and attaches great importance to peace.” As for the previous prime ministers’ pledge never to wage war again, while this was mentioned by Abe in 2013 and 2014, he has been using the expression “the terrible tragedy of war should never be repeated” since 2015.
On the other hand, he has placed emphasis on the future for five years in a row, using the phrase “open up the future.” This year, he also indicated that Japan will make efforts to work on the issue of poverty, “which is also the hotbed of conflict.”
In his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2015, Abe declared that he will not “make the future generations continue to apologize indefinitely.” He also maintained a future-oriented posture this year.