Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

For Japan's Abe, a Delicate Balancing Act in Expressing 'Profound Grief' for WWII

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

For Japan's Abe, a Delicate Balancing Act in Expressing 'Profound Grief' for WWII

Article excerpt

As he began working his way through his long-awaited speech marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's World War II defeat Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did as many had predicted, expressing "profound grief" over the loss of life and "sincere condolences" to the victims.

But sorry, it seemed, was still the hardest word.

Ever since he announced plans to issue a new war statement rather than stick to the template created 20 years ago by the then- socialist prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, Mr. Abe has had to balance the expectations of Japan's former victims with those on the right of his party who make up his support base.

Abe did not offer a fresh apology for his country's wartime brutality and atrocities. He acknowledged that Japan had inflicted "immeasurable damage and suffering" on countries in Asia, notably in China and on the Korean peninsula, where the scars of Japanese occupation and colonialism have yet to heal. But he also underscored, as he has before, how much Japan has evolved in the seven decades since the war.

In what at times appeared to be an apology to his own people for their past suffering, he said: "On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.

"We have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbors: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, and China, among others."

Beijing and Seoul made it clear that they expected a verbatim repeat of former Prime Minister Murayama's words, or at the very least a new, equally forthright apology. Abe's political allies at home, on the other hand, expected him to end Japan's "masochistic" postwar culture of contrition. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.