On the occasion of the day marking the anniversary of the end of World War II, the significance of such diplomacy should be recognized anew.
The government-sponsored national memorial ceremony for the war dead was held on Wednesday, with the Emperor and Empress in attendance.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his address that “We will never again repeat the devastation of war. Humbly facing history, we will remain committed to this resolute pledge.”
Since the end of the war, Japan has considered the Japan-U.S. alliance and its international cooperation as the foundation for pursuing its diplomacy. Its official development assistance and the activities conducted overseas by the Self-Defense Forces have been highly regarded.
Even today, the world faces a number of challenges, such as regional conflicts, terrorism and poverty. Japan is required to tackle, on its own initiative, such tasks as the reconstruction of developing countries and the extension of humanitarian aid. Contributing to the world’s stability and development is one of Japan’s duties.
With the prime minister’s statement on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, the Abe administration recognized Japan’s actions during the last war as “aggression” and expressed feelings of remorse and apology for such actions. Closing a certain chapter in the issue of historical perceptions is significant.
In 2016, then U.S. President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima, while Abe expressed in Pearl Harbor that Japan would never wage war again. These are the fruits reaped from the efforts which both the Japanese and U.S. governments continuously made toward reconciliation.
Convey pacifist stance
Properly conveying to the international community the course Japan has taken as a pacifist nation: such steady efforts are also indispensable.
Not to be overlooked is the response made by the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae In regarding the issue of comfort women. At a commemorative ceremony held on Aug. 14, designated as “a national day to honor comfort-women victims of the Japanese military,” Moon said: “Nor do I see this is an issue that can be solved through diplomatic solutions between the two countries.”
The Moon administration has said that it will substitute Japan’s contribution of ¥1 billion to a foundation supporting former comfort women with the same amount, out of his country’s national budget. Such a stance of watering down the Japan-South Korean agreement that declared “a final and irreversible solution” to the comfort women issue is not acceptable.
The South Korean government plans to put efforts, from here on, into comfort women-related commemorative projects, research and educational activities. Transmitting messages on the basis of a self-righteous perception of history could foment anti-Japan sentiments both within South Korea and abroad. Keeping a close watch is needed.
In his address at a ceremony to commemorate the national liberation day of Korea on Aug. 15, a day to commemorate the end of Japanese rule of Korea, Moon expressed an idea of his country’s cooperating with Japan to promote peace and prosperity in Asia. Between Japan and South Korea, there are various themes for mutual cooperation. A bilateral rift must not be widened over the issue of historical perceptions.
Movements to erect statues symbolizing comfort women have not stopped. One such statue has been installed in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan. The Japanese government protested as a matter of course, saying that Taiwan’s move “is not compatible with the efforts of the Japanese government.”
It is important for Japan to deal level-headedly and resolutely with acts apparently intended to unduly demean Japan’s position.