Japan Ex-PM Says Abe Risks Alienating Neighbors If He Dilutes Apology

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe risks further alienating Asian neighbors China and South Korea if he does not stick to the substance of a 1995 apology for wartime aggression, the man who issued the landmark statement two decades ago said on Tuesday.

Japan Ex-PM Says Abe Risks Alienating Neighbors If He Dilutes Apology

Former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, a socialist, was head of an unwieldy coalition with the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) when he made the "heartfelt apology" for the wartime damage and suffering caused by Japan. Abe, then a rookie LDP lawmaker, was one of those who opposed the move.

Now premier for a second time, Abe's conservative agenda includes adopting a less apologetic tone toward the past and revising the post-war, pacifist constitution.

Abe has said he intends to uphold past apologies, including Murayama's, but has signaled he wants to issue a forward-looking statement in his own words, Reuters reported.

"If you listen to what Mr. Abe has said so far...it appears he wants to water down the facts of the past somewhat," Murayama told Reuters at the headquarters of the tiny Social Democratic Party, successor to the Socialist Party he once led.

"Depending on the content, this could reap the mistrust of Asia and the world," Murayama said. "There is great concern (overseas) that Japan is diluting its remorse toward the past and is lurching to the right. I worry about that."

"It is all right to change the wording, but I want him to avoid mistaking the fundamental attitude and understanding (of the Murayama Statement)."

Abe's anniversary comments will be closely parsed in China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan's past militarism run deep, and by Japan's close ally Washington.

Feuds over wartime history as well as territorial rows have frayed Tokyo's ties with Seoul and Beijing in recent years. Sino-Japanese relations have thawed a bit since a leaders' summit last November but ties with Seoul remain frosty.

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