社説:8・15と日中韓 「歴史の衝突」回避せよ

August 16, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Japan must avoid conflict with China, S. Korea over historical perception
社説:8・15と日中韓 「歴史の衝突」回避せよ

Japan commemorated the 69th anniversary of the end of World War II on Aug. 15 without resolving its conflicts with China and South Korea over historical perceptions and territorial issues. This is indeed regrettable.

In some ways, changes in the power balance in East Asia stemming from the rise of China have created friction, but the leaders of the three countries are largely responsible for the conflicts.

There are signs that Japan's bilateral relations with China and South Korea are beginning to improve as Japan-China and Japan-South Korea foreign ministerial talks have recently been held. These moves should lead to fundamental improvement in Tokyo's ties with Beijing and Seoul.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refrained from visiting Yasukuni Shrine, where Class A war criminals are enshrined along with the war dead, on Aug. 15 this year. Instead, he sent a close aide to make a ritual offering to the shrine as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), while Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo and two other Cabinet ministers paid a visit to the shrine. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued a statement criticizing the prime minister and the three Cabinet ministers' acts.

Prime Minister Abe's decision not to visit the shrine on the anniversary of the war's end is appropriate. The last war was a reckless war of aggression. The prime minister apparently made the decision out of diplomatic considerations. The prime minister should not, however, visit the shrine where Class A war criminals -- or war leaders -- are enshrined in the first place.

It is necessary to put an end to the controversy and diplomatic rows over the pros and cons of the prime minister and other high-ranking government officials visiting the shrine. Now is the time to seriously explore the possibility of separating war criminals from the war dead enshrined at Yasukuni or building a non-religious national memorial for the war dead, which has previously been discussed within the LDP.

For the second consecutive year, Abe stopped short of mentioning responsibility for Japan's wartime aggression in Asia or pledging not to wage war again, which could invite misunderstanding among Asian countries.

In a speech marking the anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, South Korean President Park Geun-hye urged Japan to take proactive measures to settle the issue of so-called "comfort women" that can satisfy the victims by next year -- the 50th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations.

There is still a wide perception gap between Japan and South Korea over the issue. While Seoul is demanding that Japan admit the government's responsibility for conscripting Korean women to serve as comfort women for Japanese soldiers during the war, Tokyo has taken the position that the issue of compensation has been legally settled.

It is necessary for Japan and South Korea to lead international efforts to settle the comfort women issue from the viewpoint that it is an issue of women's individual rights in wartime rather than just a bilateral issue.

Japan should discuss with South Korea what Tokyo can do in terms of its humanitarian and ethical responsibility. South Korea should also refrain from excessively criticizing Japan and show its readiness to play a constructive role in settling the issue.

China should also refrain from using the history of Japan's wartime aggression to paint Japan as the bad guy on the international stage, or take any other provocative action in bilateral territorial disputes.

The leaders of the three countries must try to avoid any conflict over historical perceptions or nationalism-fuelled clashes, and work toward improving relations as we approach 2015, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

毎日新聞 2014年08月16日 02時31分

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