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Koizumi apologizes for past aggression
Latest Updated by 2005-08-16 09:30:08
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Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a statement on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II on Monday, apologizing to the victims of Japan's past aggression and expressing willingness to join hands with Asian neighbors like China and South Korea to help maintain peace in the region.

The statement, which the Cabinet adopted earlier in the day, was the first of its kind issued by a prime minister on the anniversary since 1995.

While repeating the words of the apology he delivered in April in Jakarta, Koizumi directly referred to China and South Korea, in a gesture to seek better relations with the Asian neighbors in the wake of a sharp deterioration in ties over a series of history issues such as Japanese leaders' visits to Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine.

"Our country has caused tremendous damage and pain to the peoples of many countries, especially Asian countries, through colonial rule and invasion. Humbly acknowledging such facts of history, I once again reflect most deeply and offer apologies from my heart as well as express my condolences to all the victims of the last major war both in and out of the country," Koizumi said in the statement.

"I believe it necessary to join hands, especially with those Asian countries just across the water such as China and South Korea, in maintaining peace and aiming at development in the region," he said.

In 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, then Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama apologized for Japan's past wrong doings for the first time as a Japanese premier.

Based on the so-called Murayama statement, Koizumi delivered a similar apology in a speech at the Asian-African summit in April in Jakarta, but has failed to make concrete actions to help improve ties with China and South Korea.

"I am determined to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world by not allowing the lessons from the tragic war to fade away and by never engaging in war," the prime minister reiterated in the statement.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura expressed confidence the same day that Japan can improve its relations with other Asian countries including China and South Korea.

The foreign minister underscored the importance for Japan and its Asian neighbors to strive to establish better relations after acknowledging differences over Yasukuni Shrine and overcoming problems stemming from these differences.

Last Friday, Koizumi indicated he would not visit the Yasukuni Shrine on or around Aug. 15. China and South Korea strongly protest Japanese leaders visiting the notorious shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals responsible for Japan's aggression war against its Asian neighbors.

Koizumi made his fourth annual visit to the shrine on Jan. 1, 2004 since taking office in April 2001.

His annual Yasukuni visits have sparked strong protests from China, South Korea and other Asian countries.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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