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2015年8月16日 (日)

クローズアップ2015:首相70年談話 安倍カラーを抑制 安保審議が誤算


August 15, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Abe refrains from showing political stripe in anniversary statement
クローズアップ2015:首相70年談話 安倍カラーを抑制 安保審議が誤算

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refrained from explicitly exhibiting his political stripe in his statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II due to a shaky political base as exemplified by declining approval ratings.

Abe had initially planned to play up a future-oriented message but opted instead to devote the bulk of his statement to perceptions of history in consideration of the potential effects on Diet deliberations on security bills as well as ties with junior coalition partner Komeito. But he did not mention as his own historical perceptions ''aggression,'' ''colonial rule,'' ''apology'' and other key words and phrases, which appeared in then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's 50th anniversary statement in 1995.

Many people had closely followed if Abe in his statement would mention four key words and phrases -- ''aggression,'' ''colonial rule,'' ''deep remorse'' and ''heartfelt apology.''

Abe's statement did not quote a portion of the Murayama statement that says ''through its (Japan's) colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.'' Instead, Abe said, ''Incident, aggression, war -- we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes'' without elaborating on how he recognizes aggression. He also stated, ''We shall abandon colonial rule forever'' without making any reference to Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

As for ''remorse'' and ''apology,'' the prime minister declared that ''Such a position articulated by the previous Cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.'' But he did not issue an apology in his statement. He went on to say ''We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.'' This position appears to reflect the view of Abe and his aides and advisers, including Tomomi Inada, chairwoman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s Policy Research Council who said Aug. 11 that she senses that something is not right for Japan to keep apologizing forever.

The Abe statement was a product of hard work as it contained essential words and phrases and took into consideration Komeito and neighboring countries as well as the right-wing element, Abe's main support base.

Abe is understood to have had no intention to mention ''aggression.'' Abe said during a meeting of the House of Councillors Budget Committee in April 2013 that his Cabinet would not inherit the Murayama statement per se. However, he said later that he would inherit the Murayama statement as a whole. He also said he sees no need to write another anniversary statement, suggesting he would prepare a statement to focus on the path Japan has taken over the past 70 years since the end of World War II and Japan's future.

Abe had considered issuing a statement in a quiet atmosphere after winning passage of security legislation by early August. At one point, Abe had contemplated issuing a statement without a Cabinet decision to clearly mirror his own perception of history.

But parliamentary deliberations on the security bills have protracted. Three constitutional scholars told the House of Representatives Commission on the Constitution on June 4 that the security bills violate the postwar Constitution. Then, young LDP lawmakers, during a study session, made remarks about suppressing the media, causing the Cabinet's support rate to plunge.

The Abe government was forced to extend the Diet session through Sept. 27. In a Mainichi poll in July, the Abe Cabinet's disapproval rating topped the approval rating by a margin of 43 percent to 42 percent for the first time since the inauguration of the current Abe Cabinet in December 2012. The approval rating fell to 32 percent in a Mainichi survey in August.

For the Abe government and the LDP, Komeito's full-scale backing is essential amid dwindling support as they prepare for the upper house election next summer. The Abe government went along with Komeito's request for Cabinet approval because of the possibility that Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota, a Komeito lawmaker, may be questioned in the Diet about perceptions of the Abe statement. There were also conservative LDP lawmakers loyal to Abe who demanded a 70th anniversary statement to be adopted by the Cabinet, like the Murayama statement.

When Abe briefed Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi during a meeting on Aug. 7 about a draft statement without referring to an apology, Yamaguchi asked Abe to issue a statement which conveys the inheritance of the previous prime ministerial statements to domestic and international audiences. Abe later telephoned Yamaguchi to say he will change the draft to include an apology. Abe also met U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Aug. 10 and appeared to have sought her understanding.

The prime minister had initially thought of issuing a future-oriented statement to demonstrate his leadership in foreign policy vis-a-vis China and South Korea and at home. But the fact of the matter is that he was forced to refrain himself in preparing the statement due to the aggravating climate surrounding his government.

An LDP lawmaker said Prime Minister Abe's top priority is the enactment of the security legislation. If his statement were a radical one to irritate Komeito and China and South Korea, it would have affected Diet debate, the lawmaker said, adding Abe subsequently compromised because his administration is almost up against the wall.


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