Abe’s Stance on History will Seriously Affect Japan Internationally
By admin February 27, 2015

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It has always been a heated topic how Japan interprets what they did in World War II, including the invasion to China and the attack on Pearl Harbor. This year is the 70th anniversary of World War II and it is brining the public’s attention back to this topic. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will give a statement to mark the 70th anniversary this summer.

At the end of February, an advisory panel held its first meeting, discussing the content of this statement. It is said that Shinzo Abe will focus his statement on where Japan is headed in the future but not giving a clear comment on the history.

Previously, Abe said his cabinet will “uphold the position of previous cabinets regarding recognition of history as a whole”. The most important statement issued by past administration is the Murayama statement, delivered 20 years ago on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. Then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama used words like “colonial rule and aggression”, “mistaken national policy”, and “deep remorse and heartfelt apology”. However, Abe seems to always avoid these sentiments when giving remarks on the War, which will reignite regional tensions especially from China and South Korea and endanger Japan’s international relationship regardless of what he says about post-war development or policy in the future.

In fact, Japanese government’s stance on history has largely affected public’s opinion and it becomes another big concern of its Asian neighbors. A recent survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun (Yomiuri Newspaper) showed that “only 5 percent of respondents knew a lot about aggression wars launched by the Imperial Japan, including the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and the Second World War, compared with 49 percent who said they either did not know much about them or had no knowledge of them”.

Abe took office in 2012. Since then, he has been promoting an amendment of the constitution and a stronger role for its National Self-Defense Force. Abe’s support for a stronger military is highly debated amongst the public. The recent ISIS hostage crisis, where two Japanese people were beheaded, provides a chance for Abe to gain support and show the necessity of a more powerful National Self-Defense Force.

Nevertheless, this tragedy could not change the fact that Abe is still holding an ambiguous attitude towards the historical issue. Even the Crown Prince Naruhito realizes the importance of facing the history:“I myself have not experienced the war but it is important to look back to the past humbly and correctly pass down tragic experiences and the history behind Japan to the generations who have no direct knowledge of the war, at a time when memory of the war is about to fade,” responding on his 55th birthday.

Besides its Asian neighbors, Abe’s forthcoming statement might create tension with the United States as well. Since both South Korean and Japan are its crucial allies in Asia, the contradictions between these two countries make it difficult for the US to maintain Asian’s regional security.


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