Japan 'should apologize to other Asian countries'

Updated: 2015-05-10 20:20

By CAI HONG in Tokyo(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Murayama says keeping its pacifist Constitution intact is of paramount importance for Tokyo

In 1995, then Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, a socialist, made a "heartfelt apology" for the wartime damage and suffering caused by his country.

Shinzo Abe, then a rookie lawmaker from the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, was one of those who opposed the move.

The comments that Abe, now Japan's prime minister, will make about the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in August will be closely watched around the world, especially by Murayama.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, the 91-year-old asked his compatriots to review Japan's wartime past and defend the pacifist Constitution. Here are excerpts:

Q: Are you going to visit Beijing in September for the ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of China's victory over Japan in World War II?

A: The event is still several months away. I want to visit China, but the trip depends on arrangements and my health.

Q: Do you have concerns that Abe will deliver a watered-downed version of Murayama's statement in the summer?

A: Abe blows hot and cold, so I don't have any idea of what he is going to say in his statement.

Q: Many people in Japan say the country has offered enough apologies to other Asian countries. What are your thoughts?

A: The question refers to two issues. One is about apology. Apologizing is not the end. The other issue is about reflecting on history and stopping it repeating itself.

If one apology is enough, serious discussions on how to perceive the wartime past should be held all the time. It is a big task for Japan. Many people in Japan — if not everyone — hold that the country was not alone in colonizing and invading other countries, claiming that Japan launched the war for self-defense and for liberating other Asian countries.

They say European countries are also examples of many cases of colonization and aggression. This point of view is erroneous. Japan should apologize to other Asian countries.

Q: Earlier this year at a meeting of the Diet, Abe referred to Japan's self-defense force as "our army". Japan is to pass several security-related laws and update its defense alliance with the United States. What is your opinion of the role of the SDF?

A: Japan has remained pacifist over seven decades, steering clear of any conflict or war. It has adopted a defense-only policy, which is the prerequisite for the birth of the SDF. I'm against sending SDFs abroad.

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