U.S. report raises concerns about Abe's perception of Japan's wartime history

May 09, 2013

By TAKASHI OSHIMA/ Correspondent

WASHINGTON--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s views of history that appear to deny Japan’s wartime aggression could end up harming U.S. interests, a report released here said.

The report titled “Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress” was released on May 1 by the Congressional Research Service.

The CRS occasionally releases reports on various issues that are used as reference materials by congress members. The reports themselves do not represent the official stance of the U.S. Congress.

The report pointed out “comments and actions on controversial historical issues by Prime Minister Abe and his Cabinet have raised concern that Tokyo could upset regional relations in ways that hurt U.S. interests.”

Abe last month infuriated China and South Korea by questioning the wording in a 1995 statement of remorse and apology for Japan’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula and Japan’s invasion of China and other Asian countries.

China and South Korea also denounced the visits to Yasukuni Shrine in April by four of Abe’s Cabinet members. The Shinto shrine in Tokyo is seen as a symbol of Japan's military past.

Referring to the first time Abe served as prime minister from 2006 until 2007, the CRS report states that Abe “was known for his nationalist rhetoric and advocacy for more muscular positions on defense and security matters.”

It added: “Abe’s positions--such as changing the interpretation of Japan’s pacifist Constitution to allow for Japanese participation in collective self-defense--were largely welcomed by U.S. officials. ... Other statements, however, suggest that Abe embraces a revisionist view of Japanese history that rejects the narrative of imperial Japanese aggression and victimization of other Asian nations.”

The report also said Abe has been involved with groups arguing that Japan has been unjustly criticized for its behavior as a colonial and wartime power.

“Abe’s selections for his Cabinet appear to reflect (his historical) views, as he chose a number of politicians well-known for advocating nationalist, and in some cases ultra-nationalist views,” the report said.

By TAKASHI OSHIMA/ Correspondent
  • 1
submit to reddit
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Feb. 22. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Feb. 22. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Toggle
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Feb. 22. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

More AJW