Abe's war speech: Intellectuals to weigh in before lawmakers

Abe's war speech: Intellectuals to weigh in before lawmakers
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a meeting at his official residence in Tokyo January 21, 2015. Japan will do its utmost to free two of its countrymen believed to be held captive by the Islamic State militant group, Abe told reporters on Wednesday, adding that Tokyo would never give in to terrorism.

TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government will assemble a blue-ribbon panel this month to advise him on a statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. But it will wait a while to let vociferous ruling party lawmakers sound off on the issue.

"We are in the middle of choosing panelists now," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Friday.

The panel will comprise a dozen or so historians, journalists, and other learned men and women. "We want to bring together different kinds of people in a well-balanced manner," a senior government official said.

They will hold their first meeting this month and convene regularly after that. The government will draw on the panel's recommendations in drafting the statement while providing opportunities for ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito lawmakers to offer their views, officials say. Abe will issue the statement on or around Aug. 15, when Japan commemorates the end of World War II each year.

Such consultations are not typical for the government. Only a handful of senior officials took part in writing then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's 1995 apology for Japanese militarism. Although the LDP formed part of the socialist Murayama's coalition government, it was said to have been kept only partly abreast of this process.

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