On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed grief and remorse for his country’s role in World War II and the millions of lives that were lost.
In a speech marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Abe said that Japan must continue to resolve never to use force to settle international conflicts again. He also went on to say that future Japanese generations shouldn’t have to keep apologizing for the country’s role in the international conflict.
According to Abe, Japan has shown deep remorse and apologized for its actions during the war, actions that caused pain to neighboring Asian countries like China and South Korea. But now, because 80% of Japan’s population was born after the war, he doesn’t think there is a need for them to continue apologizing.
In his speech, Abe said “We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.” While he doesn’t feel that the postwar generation needs to keep apologizing for the country’s role in World War II, he does feel that all Japanese people must understand their history and pass it on to the future generations.
Over the years, the Japanese government has repeatedly apologized for its role in the war, including the fact that they used women from neighboring Asian countries as “comfort women,” or sex slaves for their military.
The fact that Abe didn’t apologize again drew some negative reactions from Japan’s neighboring countries, including China, which was invaded and occupied by Japan during the war.
According to CNN, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency released a statement after the speech, calling Abe’s remarks “a diluted one at best, thus marking only a crippled start to build trust among its neighbors.” The Chinese news agency went on to say that “Instead of offering an unambiguous apology, Abe’s statement is rife with rhetorical twists.”
Kim Young-woo, the spokesman for South Korea’s ruling party, also pointed out that the Japanese prime Minister’s speech did not include a direct apology. He said that “It’s regrettable that he (Abe) mentioned the comfort women issue in a rather indirect way,” but that South Korea will continue to urge Japan to show remorse.
North Korea had even more pointed criticism of Abe’s speech. A statement from the country’s Foreign Ministry department said that “Japan is talking about future and responsibility and contribution in the international community without making an apology.” The statement went on to call Prime Abe’s speech “an unpardonable mockery of the Korean people and an act of deceiving the international community.”