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China Daily Website  

World 'watching' Japan's next move

Updated: 2015-08-07 09:13
By ZHANG YUNBI and CHENMENGWEI in Beijing and CHEN WEIHUA in Washington (China Daily USA)

Abe's record of whitewashing Japan's role in the war, such as questioning whether it is aggression on the part of Japan and whether comfort women, or women forced into sexual slaves, were coerced by the Japanese army and government, have angered not only Chinese but Koreans.

Leading US newspapers, such as the Washington Post and New York Times, have run editorials over the years blasting Abe's revisionist views on history. Japanese American Congressman Mike Honda from California has repeatedly urged Abe and the Japanese government to correctly face-up to the comfort women issue.

On Thursday, South Korea's Foreign Ministry expressed regret over an advisory report relating to Abe's upcoming statement, saying that the contents are "not at all" helpful for improving Seoul-Tokyo relations, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, Abe was handed a report by a group of experts from Japan of what, in their opinion, should be included in his statement to be released next week. The report cited acknowledgment of Japan's wartime aggressions, but at the same time it reportedly did not contain any calls for an apology, and instead refers to the South Korean government as having been moving around the "goal post" for the two countries' history-related issues.

On Abe's statement, likely to be made on August 14, the attention will be on whether he will truly uphold the view of history by his predecessors, in particular Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. Words like "heartfelt apology" and "colonial rule and aggression" were both in the 1995 Murayama Statement and 2005 statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Abe's words "deep remorse" were seen as not going far enough.

The US government has hoped that its two allies, South Korea and Japan, will be able to put bitter history issues behind to better support an envisioned US-Japan-South Korea trilateral alliance, but the US has not pushed hard enough on Abe, a stalwart supporter of the Japan-US alliance.

Asked about the advisory panel report to Abe on Thursday, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner only said that "we welcome Prime Minister Abe's positive comments this past year on history issues — as well as Japan's postwar contributions to peace. We took note of his remarks in Washington about upholding the views expressed by previous prime ministers in regard to the past."

"And we believe, finally, that strong, constructive relations between countries in the region promote peace and stability and are in their interests as well as the interests of the United States," he told a daily briefing.

But he dodged the question on whether Abe should go further in the upcoming statement.

While many had thought Abe would visit Beijing in September to hold another summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he had "not heard" of such as visit in September, words that have been interpreted as Beijing's dissatisfaction with Abe's recent actions.

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