Toying with historic chance brings no good for Japan

BEIJING, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) — It is a shame that speculation on the wording of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s speech, due to be delivered on Friday, one day before the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, is still heaping up.

It only throws more doubts on the Japanese government’s sincerity of its past aggression.

Contradicting signals have been sent out on Japanese media, with public broadcaster NHK reporting the draft statement would include such key words as “apology”, “aggression”, “deep remorse” and “colonial rule”, and Kyodo News saying it might include “deep remorse” but no “apology”.

The dust is not settled because Abe has already let his country’s wartime-victim nations down in a speech delivered at the Asian-African Summit in Indonesia in April, which stopped short of an apology following expressions of deep remorse. The speech was considered a preview of his speech on Friday.

The reported change of the date that Abe will give the speech, which was initially expected on Aug. 15, shows he is not conforming to convention.

On Aug. 15, 1995, then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama publicly apologized for the damage and suffering Japan inflicted upon Asian nations during the war.

Murayama’s landmark address was well received in both China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) for his sincerity. His wording was reused by prime minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2005.

Accepted history deserves respect from all, and there is no room for pursuit of personality in this arena.

Japan’s wartime atrocities, including the Nanjing Massacre and the suffering of comfort women, are accepted iron-clad facts.

Carrying on the landmark Murayama Statement is the first step to be taken for Abe if he really wants to take history in a positive direction on an occasion when peace-loving people in Asia and beyond mark the 70th anniversary of the end of war.

Any attempts to water down or deviate from the Murayama Statement would not only damage the international reputation earned by the Japanese people over a period of nearly 70 years, but will also hurt the reconciliation process with its Asian neighbors, including China and the ROK.

It is in Japan’s best interest that its leader reaffirms the Murayama Statement and take concrete measures to heal a wound that has been kept open for 70 years and is still stifling the full potential of East Asia.

For regional good and lasting peace, the statement offers a historic opportunity for Abe, should he take it.


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