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Abe Reverses Course, Supports Japanese Apology For WWII


Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe backtracked yesterday on previous comments he made in which he suggested that he did not agree with the famous 1995 apology by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. Murayama apologized to neighboring countries like China and Korea for Japanese aggression during World War II. Abe, a nationalist, has said on several occasions that he might seek to retract the apology. “Aggression,” he said, “can be viewed differently” depending on whose side you are on.

Yesterday, however, Abe backed down. “My administration upholds the statement as a whole,” he said during a Budget Committee meeting, according to the Japan News. Maybe he saw the wisdom in refraining from needlessly antagonizing his country’s neighbors.

Whatever his reasons, Abe’s statement of support for the Murayama apology won’t do much to calm the situation down. In a way, this was the worst possible move, because it deepens the sense of mistrust in places like Beijing and Seoul, where officials already see the Abe administration as antagonistic and insincere. Abe’s previous callous comments and Tokyo’s repeated insensitive behavior during recent diplomatic disagreements rob much of the meaning from Abe’s “support” for the apology. The diplomatic climate in East Asia will probably remain as chilly as it has been lately.

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