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Former Japanese PM Calls on Abe to Drop Security Bills
   2015-08-12 18:37:58    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama addresses a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo July 29, 2015. [Photo: Xinhua/Stringer]

Japan's former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama has come out of retirement to be the face of mounting opposition to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security bills.

The former PM, well-known for his landmark apology to Asian nations over Japan's wartime past, is urging Abe to admit Japan's wartime wrongdoing in his forthcoming statement later this week.

CRI's Xyee has more.


 

Tomiichi Murayama was head of a coalition with the conservative-leaning Liberal Democratic Party in 1995 when he made the "heartfelt apology" for the wartime damage and suffering caused by Japan - known now as the "Murayama statement".
"I regard, in the spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology."

At 91 years old, the former prime minister has not let his age prevent him from joining protests that have been sparked by the controversial bills.

The security bills, if adopted, will allow Japan to expand its military abilities abroad, such as fighting for or defending a friendly country like the United States.

Abe's agenda also includes adopting a less apologetic tone towards the past and revising the post-war, pacifist constitution which Murayama said would lead Japan back to war.

"People are saying they don't know what's going to happen next. But if we keep flexing our muscles, a war will eventually break out. History has taught us that. We need to prevent this from happening."

According to the latest opinion polls by NHK, 64 percent of those polled were either against the bills or did not think highly of them.

The same polls also found Abe's popularity ratings have dropped to 37%.

The older generation in Japan, especially those who have experienced the war, generally have a harder time accepting the bills.

"I think most people my age who have experienced war aren't supportive of the bill, because it will bring us one step closer to war."

"I feel that Japan will begin to lose the integrity it has built up so far and end up becoming isolated as a nation."

Abe, who is expected to give a statement this week to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, has said he will uphold past statements about the war, including Murayama's 1995 landmark "heartfelt apology" for Japan's aggression and colonialism.

But his previous remarks and stated desire to look to the future have raised concerns he wants to water down those apologies.

The statement is closely watched by the international community, especially Asian countries that were invaded by Japan during World War II.

South Korea's top diplomat says Abe's statement will be a touchstone for future relations between Seoul and Tokyo, adding that the Japanese prime minister must completely and clearly inherit the perception of history shown in previous statements issued by former Japanese leaders.

China has frequently issued similar demands to the Japanese government as prerequisite of mending ties between the two countries.

For CRI, this is Xyee.

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