Does Abe want to avoid mentioning ‘aggression’ in his WWII statement?

Does Abe want to avoid mentioning ‘aggression’ in his WWII statement?
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting on the side lines of the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta.

Does Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intend never to mention the word "aggression" in World War II in a statement he plans to issue on the 70th anniversary of the war's end?

On a recent TV programme, the prime minister suggested that he was negative about using in his statement this summer such words as "aggression" and "apology," which were included in the statement issued by former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama 50 years after the war.

"There is no need to issue a statement if it is to say the same as the statement [issued by former Prime Minister Murayama]," Abe said on the TV programme.

"Now that I've said I'll inherit the historical perception [of successive cabinets], I don't need to write the words again."

In the statement issued on the 50th anniversary, then prime minister Murayama expressed "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" over causing "tremendous damage and suffering" to the people of Asian nations and others through its "colonial rule and aggression."

Such wording seen in the Murayama statement was adopted again in the statement issued by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi on the 60th anniversary.

Abe may feel that it is time to break out of a pattern in which an apology over such matters as aggression is repeated every time the nation marks the postwar anniversaries on a 10-year basis.

It is understandable for him to have such an awareness of the issue.

Regarding the 70th anniversary statement, the prime minister has expressed his view of stressing Japan's postwar path as a pacifist nation on the basis of reflections on the war, and its future international contributions.

There is no problem in his putting emphasis on a "future-oriented" country.

'Aggression' undeniable

However, it is impossible to comprehensively review the 70 years without a historical perception that starts from the point where postwar Japan admitted the aggression was wrong.

In April 2013, the prime minister said at a Diet (Japan's bicameral legislature) session that the definition of aggression has not been officially decided either academically or internationally.

It is a fact that there are various debates in terms of international law as to the definition of aggression.

But there is no denying that, at least, the acts by the former Japanese military from the 1931 Manchurian Incident were aggression.

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