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Home » Archives » April 2005 » Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi expresses remorse, lawmakers visit Yasukuni Shrine...

Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi expresses remorse, lawmakers visit Yasukuni Shrine...

Saturday, April 23, 2005 Posted: 09:46 AM JST

At the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi once again expressed remorse for Japanese actions during the Pacific War: "In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility. And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to force."

The Prime Minister's remarks went short of what critics have demanded for many years: a strongly worded official statement of apology endorsed by Parliament.

"That Koizumi expressed this attitude in this arena is welcome. We welcome it," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told reporters at the summit of Asian and African leaders in Jakarta. "But to express it is one aspect. What's of much more importance is the action. You have to make it a reality."

His comments were partly in reference to a number of Japanese politicians who on the same day as Koizumi's speech went to pay their respects to war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on the occasion of the shrine's annual spring festival. Some 18 Class-A war criminals are also enshrined here. Among the visitors was Taro Aso, minister of internal affairs and communications.

A nonpartisan group of at least 80 Diet members visited the shrine before Aso. Among them were senior vice ministers Hiroshi Imazu of the Defense Agency, Koya Nishikawa of the Cabinet Office, parliamentary secretaries Masahiro Morioka of the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry, Junshiro Nishime of the Cabinet Office and Kazuko Nose of the Environment Ministry. Another 88 Diet members were represented by proxy. The group visits Yasukuni Shrine three times a year: for the spring and fall festivals and for the August 15 anniversary of the end of the Pacific War.

"It's a natural aspect of Japan and its people to pay their respects to the spirits of fallen soldiers," commented LDP lawmaker Takao Fujii to reporters. Fuji serves as the group's vice chairman. "It's a pity that we cannot gain understanding from the people of neighboring countries, particularly China and South Korea, on this issue." Media have not reported any statements by Fuji about the fact that Class-A war criminals are also enshrined at the shrine. Prime Minister Koizumi has visited Yasukuni each year since taking office in April 2001. He has not visited yet this year, but is still expected to do so.

Koizumi's speech and the visit of the lawmakers to Yasukuni Shrine give mixed signals that will not endear the Japanese to the tens of thousands of Chinese that have demonstrated during the past few weeks against a Japanese history text book whitewashing Japanese actions during the Pacific War.

Read previous statements by Koizumi and other Japanese officials at Shortlist of War Apologies by Japan

Keywords: national_news war_apologies

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1 comments so far post your own

1 | At 10:38am on Apr 24 2005, Rita O'Brien wrote:
I am 70 yrs old and remember well the years of WWll as a child. Not politically or with the intellect of military leaders, but with emotional pain and acceptance of a sad way of life. Today, I was reading my daily paper and saw the article of apology of Prime Minister Koizume for the actions of his country during that time. I was amazed at the way it affected me. Who in the world would think that such a gesture would mean anything to someone who was a mere child during that conflict. And who would think that it really mattered so many years later. Well it does matter, and I am responding with gratitude for the entire publication of his statement. What with all the ills of today's war games, it was a bright spot in my day to note Koizumi's spin on the actions and the current and future direction of his country. Why I may even decide to visit the far east one day and see if all he says is true. Regardless, I feel better and offer my thanks for the enlightenment. Way to go Koizume. Rita O'Brien from Virginia.
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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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