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Abe says he may omit apology from Japan WWII statement

21 april 2015, 15:18

 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he may not issue a direct apology for Japan's past aggression in an upcoming statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, AFP reports.

Observers are focusing on whether Abe will make direct reference in the statement this summer to his country's "colonial rule and aggression" and express an "apology", as previous premiers did on the 50th and 60th anniversaries.

For China and South Korea -- its wartime adversaries -- the terms are a crucial marker of Japan's acceptance of its wrongdoing in the 1930s and 1940s as it marched across Asia, leaving millions dead in its wake.

But Abe suggested in an interview on a TV news programme late Monday that as long as he says he agrees with what was written in the previous statements, "I don't think I need to write it again".

Beijing and Seoul vociferously argue that Tokyo has not properly atoned for its actions in the 1930s and 1940s, and does not fully accept its guilt, insisting that a landmark 1995 statement expressing remorse must stand.

Abe, a strident nationalist, wants Japan to have what he says is a less masochistic view of its history, but has caused waves by quibbling over the definition of "invade" and has provoked ire by downplaying wartime sex slavery.

While many of its former foes have moved past the enmity of last century, Japan is regularly lambasted by Beijing and Seoul for a perceived failure to atone for the past, and for being unwilling to "face history squarely".

Last week, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami said Japan must continue saying sorry for its World War II aggression until its former victims say "enough".

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