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Experts stress importance of Abe apology

Updated: 2015-08-13 07:51
By Zhang Chunyan in London, Zhao Yanrong in Bangkok and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing (China Daily)

Analysts in Europe and Asia stressed the importance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sincerely apologizing for Japan's wartime atrocities in his statement on Friday marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

"Acknowledgment of Japan's historic conduct in the region is important to improving ties with its neighbors," Richard Caplan, professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, told China Daily.

Abe confirmed on Wednesday that he will "convey to the world the remorse for the past war," Kyodo News agency reported.

Kavi Chongkittavorn, a senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, said Abe should follow the footsteps of his predecessors, especially former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, who expressed deep remorse in 1995.

"Otherwise, it would render long-term negative ramifications not only to the Asian region's most important bilateral relations, but impact peace and stability in the whole region, especially ASEAN," Chongkittavorn said.

Experts stress importance of Abe apology

"Abe is a nationalist when it comes to the defense of Japan," he added. "Japan has maintained the pacifist path after WWII, but now the future is hanging in the balance because of the new attitude of Abe."

Nicola Cassarini, a senior fellow for Asia at the Institute of International Affairs in Italy, said, "It needs to be remembered that when German policymakers apologized for the deeds done by Nazi Germany, they not only did it to heal the past wounds inflicted on the other peoples of Europe, but also because they had a project in mind for the future of Europe."

On Dec 7, 1970, then-German chancellor Willy Brandt laid a wreath at the memorial of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw and fell to his knees in front of the memorial.

"He was not only intent on repairing the past, but also on laying the foundation of a different - and better - future for the European continent," Cassarini said.

Bambang Suryono, chief editor of Harian InHua, a major Chinese newspaper in Indonesia, said: "Whether Abe is going to include key words such as 'aggression' and 'apology' from the Murayama Statement seriously matters for Japan to achieve reconciliation with its Asian neighbors."

Chris Ogden, senior lecturer in Asian security at the University of St. Andrews in the UK, said the statement comes as legal changes are underway in Japan that would expand the role of the nation's military and overcome the pacifist tendencies set out by its Constitution.

Japan's increasingly radical defense policy has also clouded experts' hopes on the influence of Abe's statement. In mid-July, the lower house of Japan's Parliament approved two controversial bills that would change the country's security laws, though they still need approval from the upper house.

Chang Jun in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

Contact the writer through zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 08/13/2015 page1)

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