13 May 2015
On 29 April, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed a joint session of the Senate and House during his official visit to the United States, the first Japanese Prime Minister to do so. A major distraction in the lead-up to his speech was a renewed debate on how Mr Abe would handle the issue of Japanese culpability and atonement for its role during World War II. China and South Korea continue to press Japan to apologise. South Korea also highlights Japan’s role as a colonial power and reminds the world of “comfort women”, a euphemism for sex slaves.
Back in Japan, Mr Abe’s ambivalence is supported by influential nationalists in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party who feel that China and South Korea are manipulating the history issue for cynical political advantage. They want to undermine Japan’s regional and global standing and seek perpetual apologies from Japan. In Washington, Mr Abe handled the issue delicately by visiting the World War II Memorial and mentioning his “remorse” and “repentance” in his congressional address. But the issue will not die.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 15/05/2015