CANBERRA — Japan must face its wartime history by upholding the Murayama Statement unambiguously in order to move forward, Kazuhiko Togo, a professor of international politics at Kyoto Sangyo University, writes.
In an article published in the latest Eas Asia Forum, a weekly online magazine by Australian National University, Togo writes that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long stated that he wants to assert Japan’s positive and creative policies and its vision for the 21st Century in his statement. But the occasion also inescapably requires Japan to look back on its wartime history.
Abe is scheduled to make a commemorative statement Aug 14, 70 years short a day since the day Japan officially announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.
“Attention inside and outside Japan is closely focused on what Abe will say regarding Japan’s wartime history.”
The professor notes in the article that Abe has stated that he does not intend to repeat the key words of the Murayama Statement, which was made by former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. The statement used key words like “aggression”, “colonial rule” and “apology”.
“The inevitable question is whether Abe is really upholding the key concepts of the Murayama Statement or simply paying lip service to them,” he said in the article.
“If Abe fails to explicitly state all three of Murayama’s key words, that may be taken as evidence that he does not acknowledge Japanese aggression in China or the pain caused by colonial rule over the Korean peninsula. And even if he repeats his expressions of remorse and repentance, he may be criticized by Japan’s neighbors for not being prepared to apologize.”
“The best position Abe could take would be to uphold that position (Murayama Statement) unambiguously. This would keep him at the helm of Japan’s moral authority. It would also give him the strongest strategic position to deal with the remaining issues which he is still expected to resolve.”
“Looking forward, Japan needs to establish a ‘road map’ to resolve these issues,” the article says.
“Abe’s 70th anniversary commemoration speech will be the first step in this road map. The more humble it is, the more powerful it will be in enabling further steps,” it says.