But the prime minister also said that Japan must not let its future generations “be predestined to apologize”.
President Massachusetts Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said Taiwan believes in Japan’s willingness to reflect on its mistakes, but that he hoped Tokyo would “do more” and “do better” in addressing its aggression during World War II, especially on the issue of “comfort women”. “(“,.”) Remembering the country’s ancestors, who fought selflessly for liberation from Japan’s colonial rule 70 years ago, President Park said it is the responsibility of present-day Koreans to achieve a peaceful reunification and make a new leap in the worldwide arena.
Abe, the grandson of a wartime cabinet minister, himself did not visit the shrine, which honours 14 Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, along with millions of war dead.
The grandson of a wartime cabinet minister, Abe will not visit the leafy Yasukuni shrine on Saturday and sent a ritual offering instead, local media reported.
Both countries suffered badly from Japan’s imperial march across Asia in the 20th century and wanted Abe to uphold previous explicit prime-ministerial apologies for Tokyo’s actions.
Japan has marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II amid criticism from neighbours China, South and North Korea, which bore much of the brunt of Japan’s militarist march.
Japan and South Korea have long been at odds over the issue, with Seoul saying Tokyo has not done enough to atone for their suffering, despite a 1993 apology. How to pay tribute to the war dead should never become a diplomatic issue, she said.
Abe incorporated key words – such as “gratitude” and “proactive contribution to peace” – in his statement, which had not been used in either of the statements by former prime ministers Tomiichi Murayama and Junichiro Koizumi made to mark the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the war’s end, respectively.
“And it is very interesting to hear Emperor Akihito express his apologies and sadness, It is a very poignant occasion and a and a time for rememberance for all who lost their lives in World war Two”. History can’t be hidden and it remains alive through the testimonies of survivors who are still with us today.
Abe noted that more than 80 percent of the country’s population was born after the war, and echoed growing though not universal sentiment in Japan that the country has apologized enough.
The United States, which now counts Japan as one of its closest allies in the region, welcomed Abe’s remarks.
Speaking on Saturday at a ceremony in Seoul, Ms Park called on Mr Abe to reiterate Japan’s apologies for abuses during its wartime occupations of neighbouring countries.
Abe on Friday said Japan should “never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honor and dignity were severely injured”.