TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he would release a fresh statement on World War II this year, but would stand by previous apologies for wartime misdeeds.
The comment may help allay fears that the nationalist premier, who has equivocated on Japan’s guilt for its formalised system of sex slavery, would play down a landmark 1993 statement on the subject which both China and South Korea say is vital to regional relations.
During his first news conference of the year, the premier said he would record his government’s thinking on the future when he issues the statement – expected on August 15, the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.
“During the past 70 years… Japan moved ahead as a pacifist nation and made a big contribution to peace, development and democratisation in the Asia-Pacific and the world,” Abe told the conference near a Shinto shrine in Ise, central Japan.
“Over the next 80, 90 and 100 years, we have to make further contributions under the flag of proactive pacifism,” he said.
“By bringing together the wisdom, I want to write a new statement on how Japan can do more for the Asia-Pacific region and the world,” he added.
But Abe also said he would stick to statements by previous governments about the nation’s wartime behaviour, including an official 1995 apology by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.