politics

Full text of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's statement

16 Comments

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.

More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.

After World War I, which embroiled the world, the movement for self-determination gained momentum and put brakes on colonization that had been underway. It was a horrible war that claimed as many as ten million lives. With a strong desire for peace stirred in them, people founded the League of Nations and brought forth the General Treaty for Renunciation of War. There emerged in the international community a new tide of outlawing war itself.

At the beginning, Japan, too, kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan's economy suffered a major blow. In such circumstances, Japan's sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated.

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.

More than three million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war: on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families; in remote foreign countries after the war, in extreme cold or heat, suffering from starvation and disease. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on Tokyo and other cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others, took a heavy toll among ordinary citizens without mercy.

Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.

Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering. History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream, and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.

The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices. And therein lies the origin of postwar Japan. We must never again repeat the devastation of war.

Incident, aggression, war -- we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.

With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge. Upon it, we have created a free and democratic country, abided by the rule of law, and consistently upheld that pledge never to wage a war again. While taking silent pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation for as long as seventy years, we remain determined never to deviate from this steadfast course.

Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war. 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 neighbours: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others; and we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war.

Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.

However, no matter what kind of efforts we may make, the sorrows of those who lost their family members and the painful memories of those who underwent immense sufferings by the destruction of war will never be healed.

Thus, we must take to heart the following.

The fact that more than six million Japanese repatriates managed to come home safely after the war from various parts of the Asia-Pacific and became the driving force behind Japan’s postwar reconstruction; the fact that nearly three thousand Japanese children left behind in China were able to grow up there and set foot on the soil of their homeland again; and the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.

How much emotional struggle must have existed and what great efforts must have been necessary for the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war and for the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military in order for them to be so tolerant nevertheless?

That is what we must turn our thoughts to reflect upon.

Thanks to such manifestation of tolerance, Japan was able to return to the international community in the postwar era. Taking this opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the nations and all the people who made every effort for reconciliation.

In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed 80% of its population. 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. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.

Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were able to survive in a devastated land in sheer poverty after the war. The future they brought about is the one our current generation inherited and the one we will hand down to the next generation. Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations, which Japan had fiercely fought against as enemies. We must pass this down from generation to generation into the future. We have the great responsibility to take the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, to carve out a better future, and to make all possible efforts for the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan attempted to break its deadlock with force. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same. As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war, Japan will fulfill its responsibility in the international community, aiming at the non-proliferation and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honour of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Upon this reflection, Japan wishes to be a country always at the side of such women’s injured hearts. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when forming economic blocs made the seeds of conflict thrive. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to develop a free, fair and open international economic system that will not be influenced by the arbitrary intentions of any nation. We will strengthen assistance for developing countries, and lead the world toward further prosperity. Prosperity is the very foundation for peace. Japan will make even greater efforts to fight against poverty, which also serves as a hotbed of violence, and to provide opportunities for medical services, education, and self-reliance to all the people in the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan ended up becoming a challenger to the international order. Upon this reflection, Japan will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights as unyielding values and, by working hand in hand with countries that share such values, hoist the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.

Heading toward the 80th, the 90th and the centennial anniversary of the end of the war, we are determined to create such a Japan together with the Japanese people.

August 14, 2015 Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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Why did he mention Taiwan as though it was a country? Seeding a conflict?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

In Japan, the post-war generations now exceed 80% of its population. 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. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.

If only the sentiment behind this paragraph could be taken into classrooms, especially defining 'responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future'.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

All those trolls trying to paint Abe as an "extreme right" Nazi are going to have a difficult time reading that.

Not that they would actually bother to do so.

@flowers

Are you being serious?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

This was a whisker away from being a great statement. If only he could have started with "On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply...." and skipped the preceding paragraphs.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I thought the preamble was fair enough and put the events into context but I was puzzled by the comment, "the new international order" unless it means daring to challenge USA, Inc's hegemony.

Bear in mind, the statement was for the Japanese people as well, not just to appease Beijing and Seoul.

Most informed Japanese would know about the inequalities and injustices which laid their natures and led to the breaking away, including the racial equality clause at the League of Nations.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Japan will need to acknowledge their wrongdoing several times and apologize repeatedly until the other country feel and accept the sincerity. This is especially necessary when the offended country and people experience ongoing pain and grief as a result of their action. If you want to heal the relationship and regain trust and respect, you can't stop with the verbal apology. You must change the behavior, and take any specific action needed to make the other country feel confident in your integrity. In other words if your offense was deeply wounding, you may need to go above and beyond ordinary measures to make the other country feel confident again, A simple example would be the controversial Yasukuni shrine visit by Japanese officials that continues to complicate the relationship between Korea, China and also affects Japan's ally the United States.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices.

This sentence makes no sense. The peace Japan enjoys today was NOT built on the sacrifices made by the people mentioned in the two preceding paragraphs, who were Japan's victims; nor was it built on the sacrifices of the Japanese people, mentioned in the paragraph before those two.

Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations

This is what the peace Japan enjoys today was built on.

Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same.

...How does Abe square that with his 'collective self-defence' bill and his attempts to get Japanese forces engaged in military action overseas?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"Why did he mention Taiwan as though it was a country?"

Because it is, maybe? Maybe Red China should also do some soul searching and recognize Taiwan too.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I thought the preamble was fair enough and put the events into context

That might be fair enough as a par of a detailed study of the war. As part of a 70th anniversary statement that's at least partly directed at people who were grievously wronged, it smacks of making excuses. "We're sorry but it wasn't completely our fault". Whether or not it's true is somewhat irrelevant, it just makes the apology sound sincere.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

During WW2 the government's justification for war was explained to the people as a self-defense measure against the intolerable aggression by the ABCD powers that threatened the very existence of the nation. In the preamble to his very carefully crafted statement Abe does not stray far from such self-righteous sophistry, subtly playing his own game with the alphabet: he always refers to "Japan", an abstract, mythical entity that exists more as a word than as a tangible reality, rather than utter the "G" word, as in "Japanese GOVERNMENT. This allows him to avoid the "F" word as in Showa FASCISM and the "M" word, as in MILITARISM. These three little words are the only keys that can open the can of worms of the nation's past and expose it to the harsh light of historical truth. Cleo correctly zeroes in on the meme propagated by the virulent right-wing elements that survived defeat and thrived thanks to vast sums of CIA dark money and to the careful nurturing by the indulgent paternalism of Washington. The Goebbels-sized lie that the country's prosperity is based on the "sacrifices" of the millions of Japanese who died has metastasized like a cancer since 1945, and especially recently since Abe's triumphant rise can we read this in countless magazine articles and books and hear it out of the mouths of politicians and other establishment creatures. This time Abe brazenly goes one step further and even makes the absurd claim (surely some misshtake by sloppy editors?) that the post-war prosperity is based the death and suffering of "countless" (sic) numbers of people who "fought against Japan". Interestingly, Abe resorts to fascist arithmetic when referring to victims of Japanese military aggression (i.e., he doesn't even try to count or put a number on foreigners whereas he quotes the numbers 3 million Japanese dead and 6 million Japanese repatriates, as if only Japanese ethnics are worthy of a number. Remember the Nazis? 1 German = 50 Frenchmen, 100 Poles, 200 Russians, x (countless) number of Jews ). Despite my nitpicking and criticism by others Abe's statement was probably successful in its intent of massaging the national Ego of his right-wing supporters. Smoothing the ruffled feathers of the rest of us has never been on Abe's agenda for a glorious resurgence of a Pax (Pox?) Japonica in Asia.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.

It also proved bad news for Korea, as Japan secured control over the region.

Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.

Not to mention POWs who were starved or worked to death, or were executed. Nor for that matter Unit 731, where Japan performed biological experiments on human subjects

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japanese influence over Korea was great for the 40% of Korean who were hereditary slaves.

Slavery was banned.

Life expectancy for ordinary people doubled. The population doubled. Those alone are evidence of huge developmental improvements.

Then there are the 1,000s of schools, the health care system, the vast investments into infrastructure, the huge increases in productivity.

Let's remember that progressive Koreans were also behind throwing out the old, corrupt Yangban leadership and despotic royalty.

Those are absolute facts.

Get over it Christopher. Stop trying to use every news story as an excuse to damage todays Japan and today's Japanese people's reputation with your fictional exaggerations.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

he doesn't even try to count or put a number on foreigners

u_s_reamer, he is making his speech for Japan. Did any other country like British, France, Russia, USA made speech for other countries?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Abe may have made his speech for domestic consumption, but in the 21st century all the world is listening in and judging from the press reports, it appears that the outside world was for the most part underwhelmed. However, I'm puzzled why you dislike my criticism of Abe for not showing more sincerity by quoting some ball-park figures on the number of people who perished at the hands of the IJA. I'm aware that pols from other countries do not apologize for waging war and downplay the number of their victims, but this is no reason to point fingers and indulge in whataboutery. Remember it was the quixotic Japanese leaders who convinced themselves through the phoney argument of whataboutery that emulating the (bad) example of the British, Dutch and French they too were entitled to carving up chunks of Asian territory to add to the illusory Japanese Empire.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Actually, the Empire did cover a pretty huge geographic area at its peak and a considerable percentage of humanity.

Bear in mind the so called "Roman Empire", which no one argues about as being an "illusion" was only 56.8 million large.

The Japanese Empire was at least 8 times that and cover a far larger area. But for the Americans' economic and political ambitions it would have stuck.

So what's your point?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My point speaks for itself: The so-called Dai Nippon Teikoku was above all a figment of the Japanese imagination, a chimera cherished by fascist fantasists redolent of the day-dreams of a Don Quixote. The colonized peoples of Asia never accepted Japanese rule which was cruel and oppressive, and all attempts to "nipponize" the occupied lands ended in abject failure since Japanese colonial policies were manifestly motivated by self-interest and thus only alienated the subaltern peoples groaning under the iron heel of the notorious IJA. The rickety thing they called "Empire" might have encompassed a much greater area than the Roman Empire, but it was a mere momentary soap bubble in time. That the whole edifice of Empire was nothing more than a house of cards built on sand was obvious to everyone except narcissistic nationalists leading a brainwashed populace over the cliff into the abyss of total defeat, the greatest human catastrophe in the history of the country. This is why Abe must disassociate himself and his party from the irresponsible leadership of Showa Fascism, repudiate their heinous aggression that heaped shame on the Japanese nation and apologize to the people of Japan before the world can accept that he speaks sincerely and with a contrite heart. We know he cannot do this, and so he will never convince those of us who are conversant with the historical record. The demand for a sincere apology will continue until some future prime-minister cuts the Gordian Knot with the sword of truth and releases the Japanese people from their imagined victim-complex.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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