Not everyone in Japan is in favor of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s actions and statements pertaining to their country’s world war history. In a speech addressing a think tank group in Washington, opposition party leader Banri Kaieda criticized Abe’s recent conduct as worrisome and destabilizing to their neighbors.
Kaieda, president of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, speaking to Brookings Institution said, “The Abe government has gone beyond the boundary of ‘healthy nationalism’ and could be a factor that makes East Asia unstable.” Following Abe’s visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors wartime dead including class A war criminals, some policymakers and media from the U.S. have expressed concern over the premier’s view of their nation’s wartime history. Kaieda called the visit as “unacceptable for a prime minister.” He added that with Japan signing a 1954 San Francisco Peace Treaty, indicating the result of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, it accepts the worldwide view regarding Japan’s war atrocities.
While Kaieda lauded Abe’s upholding of a 1993 public apology of Japan to its victims of forcible sexual labor in military brothels during the Second World War, he slammed the premier and his aides for actions that have “raised suspicion that Mr. Abe may back historical revisionism.” Some members of Abe’s Cabinet have been pushing for a revision of the 1993 Kono Statement while others criticized their ally, the U.S. government, for expressing disappointment over his visit to the shrine. Neighbors and former colonies China and South Korea are continually outraged over these moves and statements, which they see as a sign of Abe’s desire to bring Japan back to its old militarism.
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