Japanese prepare to apologise for war: Shinsei leader calls for admission of guilt after decades of evasion
Wednesday 04 August 1993
'We are embarking on a new government five decades after the war,' said Mr Hata, 57, a former finance minister who is now head of the Shinsei (Renewal) party. 'It is a good time for soul- searching on what that war meant. If there are things to apologise for, we must apologise quite clearly.'
The Shinsei party is the main force behind a seven-party coalition which is set to form a government when the Japanese parliament is convened tomorrow, depriving the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of power for the first time in 38 years. Morihiro Hosokawa of the Japan New Party has been proposed as prime minister. But he said yesterday that he may not be able to announce a cabinet until Friday or even later, indicating continuing policy differences between the seven-member coalition.
Until now, Japan has played disingenuous word games with the issue of its war guilt, infuriating its neighbours in Asia who suffered apalling atrocities at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army in the 1930s and 1940s. The Emperor and various prime ministers have expressed 'deep sorrow' or 'reflected deeply' on the 'unfortunate sufferings of the past', as if the war had been a terrible epidemic beyond human control. So far no straightforward statement of apology has been made for the millions of Asians who were killed, injured or raped by Japanese forces.
As Mr Hata and his colleagues in the Shinsei party know, a full apology will be crucial to Japan's overcoming remaining resistance to its attempt to become a permanent member of the Security Council. As the second-largest economy in the world and the second-largest donor to the UN, Japan has said it aims to get a permanent seat by 1995, the UN's 50th anniversary.
On Monday Boutros Boutros- Ghali, the UN Secretary-General, said 11 countries, including the US, had expressed their support for Japan's permanent membership. Britain and France have recently reversed their outright opposition to the candidacy, following the US lead. But the other two permanent members, China and Russia, are still opposed to Japan's membership. China has particularly bitter memories of massacres and rapes by Japanese troops.
One of the main aspirations of the Shinsei party, masterminded by Ichiro Ozawa, 51, a former secretary-general of the LDP, is for Japan to play a more responsible role in the world; Security Council membership fits in snugly with this aspiration. 'We must take (international) initiatives. Japan cannot keep following, only doing something because Europe or the US does it,' said Mr Hata.
'We should put a full stop to all this word play,' he said. 'There are various expressions around, but I think 'apology' is closest to what I feel.' He also said Japan should stop whitewashing the August 1945 capitulation as the 'end' of the war, but openly call it the 'defeat'.
'Our message should be that war is miserable and tragic, and we must make it clear that we will never wage war again.' And the history of the war should be taught properly to schoolchildren, said Mr Hata - an indirect reference to the censorship of history textbooks which gloss over many of the worst aspects of Japan's wartime aggression.
- 1 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
- 3 Welcome to Cameroon, where drinking Baileys can lead to imprisonment
- 4 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 5 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...