Japan denied Monday that Foreign Minister Nobutaka
Machimura used direct words of apology for Japan's
wartime aggression when he met with Chinese counterpart
Li Zhaoxing over the weekend.
According to Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi,
Machimura told Li that Japan's stance on its wartime
history remains unchanged, referring to a 1995 statement
issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama offering
Japan's "heartfelt apologies" over its past aggression
Now, what about the 1995 Prime Minister Murayama
Clarification on the apologies of Prime minister
Murayama 1995, June 9th, "the resolution was drastically
watered down by the prime minister's conservative
coalition partners, most notably the Liberal Democratic
Party" John Dower writes.
First : the Gaimusho (MOFA) statement April 15th 2005,
Second: Analysis by John Dower, Massachusetts Institute
1) Questions concerning 1995 Statement by former Prime
Minister Tomiichi Murayama
Q: You said in your statement that there were few texts
and treaties signed in the past to confirm the good
relations between Japan and China. You specifically
mentioned a statement made by Prime Minister Murayama in
1995. That was a statement by the Government. It was not
at all something voted upon at the Parliament. Was there
any legal work made in the Parliament to adopt such a
Mr. Takashima: There was the resolution adopted by the
Q: Right, but my question is, if I could rephrase it,
was it just a Prime Minister's statement? And was it
reviewed by Parliament?
Mr. Takashima: It was a statement issued by then Prime
Minister Murayama. It is not the only statement we have
issued. On various occasions, we have expressed our deep
remorse and deep regret as well as expressed our sincere
apology for the damage inflicted by the acts of Japan,
especially in Asian countries by colonization or
aggression or invasion.
Q: Do you think it is time that the Parliament make up a
resolution in remorse?
Mr. Takashima: The House of Representatives passed the
resolution to learn from the lessons of history and
renew the resolve towards peace on 9 June, 1995.
2) Japan Addresses Its War Responsibility.
John W. Dower is professor of history and Henry Luce
professor of international cooperation at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"In Japan as in the United States, the 50th anniversary
of World War II in Asia has provoked highly emotional
political and ideological debates. For the American
public, this surfaced most conspicuously in a bitter
controversy over how the Smithsonian Institution's Air
and Space Museum should commemorate the use of atomic
bombs and end of the Pacific War. The Japanese
counterpart to this controversy focused on the
government's appropriate political response to a
horrendous conflict for which, in the eyes of the rest
of the world, Imperial Japan bore immense
Contrary to much media commentary in the United States,
the issue of Japanese "war responsibility" has been
quite widely debated within Japan itself for many years.
These debates intensified following the death of Emperor
Hirohito in 1989, and came to a head in June of this
year with the passage by the lower house of the Diet
(Japan's bicameral parliament) of a resolution
expressing "deep remorse" for Japan's wartime actions.
International and domestic criticism of this
conspicuously qualified resolution was partially
meliorated by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's
statement of August 15, in which he expressed his
"heartfelt apology" for the damage and suffering caused
by Imperial Japan. The documents that follow here convey
a sense of the gamut of positions taken on this divisive
and volatile issue.
Document 1 is the Diet's own "unofficial" translation of
the resolution passed in the House of Representatives,
amidst great discord, on June 9. This transparently
compromised statement reflects the politically polyglot
nature of the coalition government presiding over Japan.
Originally introduced as a relatively strong apology for
Japan's wartime transgressions by the Social Democratic
Party to which Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama belongs,
the resolution was drastically watered down by the prime
minister's conservative coalition partners, most notably
the Liberal Democratic Party that governed Japan from
1955 to 1993.
The final vote on the resolution in the lower house
amply suggests the political tumult that has accompanied
this issue. Of 502 representatives (nine seats in the
House are presently vacant), only 251 actually
participated in the vote, of whom 230 supported the
resolution. Opposition votes included fourteen members
of the Japan Communist Party, who desired a much
stronger statement of Japan's war responsibility. Some
241 members of the House abstained from voting,
including 70 representatives who were affiliated with
one of the three parties in the shaky ruling coalition
cabinet that sponsored the resolution. Over 50 of these
dissenting coalition members belonged to the
conservative Liberal Democratic Party; they felt that
the resolution still went too far. On the other hand,
fourteen Socialists abstained on the grounds that it did
not go far enough. The greatest number of abstaining
representatives (141) belonged to the Shinshinto (New
Frontier Party), at least some of whose members desired
a stronger statement. A few members of the House were
not present for reasons having nothing to do with the
resolution per se.
The resolution as passed contains several conspicuous
features. Japanese colonialism and aggression is placed
in the larger context of "modern" colonialism and
aggression by other powers (implicitly "the West"). The
word "apology" (shazai or owabi) is conspicuously absent
from the final statement. And the "deep remorse" (fukai
hansei) expressed for the suffering Imperial Japan
caused other peoples is explicitly identified as
referring primarily to Japan's Asian neighbors."
end of quotes
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