mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Japan's Selective Remorse
Shinzo Abe’s Artful Apology

After two years of hemming and hawing over whether to walk back Japan’s official apology for its behavior leading up to and during WWII, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will reaffirm the country’s admission of guilt. The Washington Post reports:

Under questioning in the Diet, the country’s parliament, Abe said his cabinet “upholds the position of previous cabinets regarding recognition of history as a whole,” including the Murayama statement delivered 20 years ago on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.

In that statement, then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said that after “following a mistaken national policy,” Japan had, “through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.”

“In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology.”

By suggesting, however, that he would alter Japan’s official apology, Abe enhanced his right-wing, nationalist credentials. Now, by deciding not to go through with it, he has partially defanged his critics even as he pushes Japan away from its pacifist post-war stance and toward becoming a more “normal,” militarized society. As his victories last year showed, Abe is nothing if not a shrewd politician.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service