Aug 16, 2013

    Abe omits apology in speech on WWII

    JAPAN'S conservative prime minister broke with two decades of tradition yesterday by omitting any expression of remorse over the country's past aggression in Asia on the anniversary of its World War II surrender.

    Mr Shinzo Abe's speech - which came after nearly 100 lawmakers, including two Cabinet ministers, visited a controversial war shrine - avoided typical words such as "profound remorse" and "sincere mourning" used by his predecessors to atone for the suffering caused as the Imperial Japanese Army stormed across East Asia.

    The omission was sure to anger China and South Korea, which have bristled at Mr Abe's talk about overhauling Japan's pacifist Constitution. They are also enraged by visits to the Yasukuni shrine, which they view as a symbol of Tokyo's imperialist past.

    China summoned Japan's envoy yesterday, saying it "strongly opposed and strictly condemned" the shrine visits, while Seoul called on Tokyo to "face history" if it wants to mend frayed ties.

    Yasukuni enshrines citizens who died in World War II and other conflicts, including 14 top convicted war criminals such as General Hideki Tojo, who authorised the attack on Pearl Harbor, which drew the United States into the war.