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Abe's war statement lacks foresight and much else

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

08-17-2015 14:14 BJT

By Hu Yifeng, research director, Literary Criticism Center, Literary and Art Association

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on August 14 issued a statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which was highly-anticipated from the world-at-large. Abe once considered defining this statement only as a "personal understanding" instead of a "cabinet decision", but he encountered strong criticisms from former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and other formidable Japanese figures.

Accordingly, the Abe statement was decided to be representative as the unified voice of the cabinet. The Abe statement mentioned "profound reflections", "colonial governance", "aggression", "apology" and other key terms, however, something really important went missing.

The Abe statement failed to say, "I" and "my country”. Additionally, Abe offered no account for the nature of the militarism aggression; there is no sincere apology to the people of injured countries; and there is no cutting off from history of militarism aggression. Compared to the Murayama Statement in 1995, which delivered a sincere apology and clear historical sense, the Abe statement seems empty and flighty.

Meanwhile, the correct perspective of history had gone missing. Only facing up to its history can a government open up to the future. Abe started from history, but played with discourse concepts, arbitrarily tailoring historical facts, describing the aggression war as an action to "resolve diplomatic and an economic dilemma." He implied that war was an inevitable outcome of historical developments to avoid pointing to evil motives of Japanese militarism. Nevertheless, historical research has shown that Japan's ambition to invade China was not an accidental incident.

Abe even said, the "Russo-Japanese war had encouraged the Asian and African people who were under colonial rule." As for the Russo-Japanese war, the belligerent countries were Russia and Japan, but the war was fought in China. It was Japan's ambition to expand and invade China.

Apparently, foresight is missing too. Due to its introspection and accountability, the 1995 landmark Murayama Statement was accepted globally that laid the foundation for Japan's diplomacy.

On the contrary, Abe statement seemed regressive. He mentioned that future generations should not keep apologizing, since over eighty percent of the Japanese people were born after the war. Abe was born in 1954. He has taken himself as the defacto leader of the generation that had nothing to do with the war and hence no need to apologize. Perhaps he endowed himself with a "holy mission" to erase history and give up reflections on the war.

To add insult to injury, a few members of Abe’s cabinet visited the Yasukuni war shrine on August 15, just  one day after Abe delivered his statement. Abe did not join them but still sent a  sacrificial gift to honor Japanese war criminals.

China has urged Tokyo to refer to the statements and commitments it has made to Beijing on historical issues, since the normalization of its bilateral diplomatic relations, and called on Japan to recognize and reflect on its history of aggression through concrete actions, and to follow the path of peaceful development to win over the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community as well.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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