Advisory panel notes 'aggression' in report for Abe's statement

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe receives a report from Taizo Nishimuro, chairman of the Advisory Panel on the History of the 20th Century and on Japan’s Role and World Order in the 21st Century, in Tokyo on Thursday.
PHOTO: The Japan News/ANN

JAPAN - An advisory panel on Thursday submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a report compiled after its discussions on a planned statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Advisory Panel on the History of the 20th Century and on Japan's Role and World Order in the 21st Century stipulated in the report that "Japan expanded its aggression" and waged "a reckless war."

It added that postwar Japan based itself on "a thorough reflection" on its wartime actions.

At a press conference Thursday, panel Chairman Taizo Nishimuro, president of Japan Post Holdings Co., said, "The report is intended for Prime Minister Abe, but we want the younger generation to read it to deepen their understanding of history."

After receiving the report, Abe said, "I'd like to work out a statement to send out to the world."

The prime minister is expected to release the statement next Friday, the day before the anniversary of the war's end.

The panel, which comprises 16 people from various fields, released the 38-page report in both Japanese and English. After its launch in February, the panel discussed five issues presented by Abe for review, and its members' views on the issues were reflected in the report. Among the five issues are the history of the world and Japan in the 20th century and the lessons to be drawn from it; evaluation of postwar Japan's commitment to peace; and Japan's reconciliation with Asian and Western countries.

In a review about Japan's path after the 1931 Manchurian Incident, the report said that Japan "lost sight of the global trends and caused much harm to various countries, largely in Asia, through a reckless war."

"It must be said that the responsibilities of the Japanese government and military leaders from the 1930s and beyond are very serious," it added.

In the report, the panel footnoted that during the discussions, dissenting views were expressed over the use of the word "aggression."

As lessons learned from the first half of the 20th century, the report said that the principle that international disputes would be settled by peaceful means and not by force has been established while a free trade system has been developed. Regarding Japan in the second half of the 20th century, the report said, "Based on the deep remorse, Japan has been reborn as a country that is completely different from what it was in the first half of the 20th century, particularly in the period between the 1930s and the first half of the 1940s."

Looking back at Japan's postwar history of pacifism, the panel stressed the significance of the nation's official development assistance and other international contributions. "Japan's postwar trajectory is based on a thorough reflection on its actions in the 1930s and the first half of the 1940s," the report said.

Meanwhile, about Japan's contributions on the security front, such as through UN peacekeeping operations, the panel argued in the report, "It cannot be said that Japan has been able to properly contribute in a manner that fully responds to the demands of the international community."

In evaluating Japan's reconciliation with relevant countries, the panel stipulated that the nation's relationships with China and South Korea have not improved compared with its ties with the United States and European and Southeast Asian countries. The panel called on Japan to "undertake work to move toward reconciliation with China by making exchanges at all levels." For the Japan-South Korea relationship, the panel stressed the need for both countries to "develop measures for reconciliation and share the responsibility for them."

The panel went on to say, "It is still difficult to conclude that full reconciliation has been achieved with respect to World War II, and there are still people in the United States, Australia and Europe who think that Japan has not yet apologised sufficiently."

However, the report stopped short of calling for a fresh apology, given that the panel has been tasked with providing "a reference" for Abe to devise the 70th anniversary statement.