14 August 2015 TOKYO (TSR-Bloomberg) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan inflicted “immeasurable damage and suffering” during World War II and he reaffirmed previous official apologies for his country’s role in the conflict.
“Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war,” he said in a statement on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat. “In order to manifest such feelings through concrete actions, we have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbors.”
Abe’s message comes a day before the country commemorates the end of the bloody conflict whose scars continue to dog Japan’s relations with South Korea and China. Many in those countries say Japan hasn’t done enough to atone for its militarism. The grandson of a wartime cabinet minister, Abe sought to balance the need for better regional relations with the wishes of nationalist backers, who say Japan should not have to apologize indefinitely.
The governments of South Korea and China will parse the statement to gauge the level of contrition. They have repeatedly raised concerns that the Abe government was seeking to whitewash Japan’s militant past.
“Japanese, across future generations, must squarely face the history of the past,” Abe said “We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.”
Abe had repeatedly said he would upheld previous prime ministers’ apologies, but saw no need to reiterate them. His speeches have often focused on Japan’s positive contributions to the region since the war, and on his plans for the nation to take a more pro-active security stance.