Tag Archives: japan

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Korean American Documentary on ‘Comfort Women’ Premieres in L.A.

by ALEX HYUN | @ahyundarkb4dawn

The Last Tear, a documentary film about Asian women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial army, premiered at CGV Cinemas in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, just days ahead of the 70th anniversary of Korea’s independence from Japan’s colonial rule.

Directed by Korean American filmmaker Christopher H.K. Lee, The Last Tear centers on the few surviving women who were forced to work as “comfort women,” as they’re euphemistically called, to Japanese soldiers during World War II. The film is co-produced by the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS and the C.A.R.E. (Collect, Archive, Research, Exhibit) Project.

With a crew that consisted of some university students from both Korea and the United States, Lee traveled to various historical locations in South Korea, Japan, Korea and Taipei and spoke with museum professionals and experts on the subject.

Narrated and subtitled in English, the 52-minute film intercuts footage of the crew’s travels, interviews with the survivors and a moving “physical theatre” performance by dancer Kristine Vismane that illustrates the emotional history of the film’s primary interviewee, Park Suk-yi.

“Now into their 80s and 90s, these women are becoming weaker day by day and we believe that such traces of painful memories and tragic stories may never be healed,” the U.S.-Korea Institute said in a statement. “But by remembering them and embracing them, we will provide a step towards their ultimate closure.”

According to Lee, The Last Tear is targeted toward second generation and third generation Korean Americans as well as non-Korean audiences. The director also expressed hope that the older generation would appreciate the younger generation’s efforts to personally connect with the history behind the estimated 200,000 Asian women who were recruited to work in Japanese military brothels.

“It was a learning experience for me because I came to the United States when I was very young, so I didn’t know much about Korea’s history,” Lee said during a Q&A session at the film’s L.A. premiere. “We had 14 students working on the project. By doing this documentary, we learned about our cultural roots together. It’s all about discovery, and with mutual interest, we are able to discover the history together and experience it together.”

As the premiere came to an end, Lee shared one wish that Park Suk-yi had. She wished for people to stop labeling her as a comfort women, and see survivors as halmonis, or grandmas. A noble request, and one bereft of negative connotations.

Future screenings for the film will be shown at future film festivals, university campuses upon request. The next screening will be held at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Korea’s Liberation Day, which falls on Saturday, Aug. 15.

To learn more about The Last Tear, visit its official website or Facebook page


Featured image via Fading Away LLC

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Korean Man Sets Himself on Fire to Protest Japan’s Wartime Sex Slavery

by ALEX HYUN | @ahyundarkb4dawn

Days ahead of Korea’s 70th Liberation Day, an 80-year old South Korean man lit himself on fire on Wednesday outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul. The incident occurred during a rally calling for Japan to apologize for forcing thousands of Korean women to work in military brothels during World War II.

Bystanders rushed to extinguish the fire with blankets and water. The elderly man, identified as Choi Hyun-yeol, is currently in critical condition with third-degree burns on his face, neck, upper torso and arms, according to the Associated Press. The protest continued after paramedics took Choi to the hospital.

In Choi’s bag, police found a five-page document, apparently written by Choi himself, that included condemning remarks about Japan’s stance on its colonialism of Korea and wartime treatment of Korean sex slaves, or “comfort women” as they are euphemistically called by Japan.

A civic group revealed in an online statement that Choi’s father was a member of an anti-Japanese independent movement in 1932, reported Reuters.

With the 70th anniversary of Korea’s independence from Japanese colonial rule drawing near, about 2,000 demonstrators participated in Wednesday’s rally. Protestors urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make an official apology for Japan’s WWII conduct.

The Japanese government has, in fact, formally apologized for its wartime atrocities against comfort women and helped establish the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995, which provides aid to aging comfort women. However, CNN notes that Tokyo has resisted direct compensations to victims, and to add insult to injury, Abe’s past statements have skirted around the comfort women issue.

With the number of surviving comfort women dwindling, South Korea’s government and activists have stressed the importance of a timely agreement on this issue. According to Vice, Abe is expected to express “deep remorse” in a speech to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s independence on Aug. 15.

See Also


Two South Koreans Cycle Across USA for ‘Comfort Women’ Awareness

Former ‘Comfort Women’ Journalist Vows to Take Stand


Featured image via Nocut View (Screenshot)

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yonhap lotte

A Breakdown of the Lotte Family Feud

by ALEX HYUN | @ahyundarkb4dawn

Two brothers squabble for control of their family’s multimillion corporation while staging coups and firing accusations at each other. No, this isn’t the synopsis for the next big Korean drama. This is the current state of South Korea’s fifth largest conglomerate, Lotte.

Last month, Lotte’s founder and his two prospective heirs became embroiled in a complicated succession battle, which has reignited public antipathy towards chaebols, or family-run conglomerates. Here’s a breakdown of the ongoing Lotte feud.

What is Lotte?



Founded in 1948 in Tokyo by Shin Kyuk-ho, the Lotte Group started off as a chewing gum distributor to children in post-war Japan. Nearly a decade later, Shin expanded the company to South Korea and became the country’s largest confectionary manufacturer.

Lotte group engages in several industries, such as shopping, entertainment, finance, hotels, and food. There are currently 199 locations for its supermarket chain, Lotte Mart, and 34 locations for its Lotte Department Store. The company’s theme park, Lotte World, is one of the largest indoor theme parks in the world, and the construction of Lotte Super Tower 123 is scheduled to become the tallest building on the Korean peninsula.

Lotte’s sales in Korea last year generated nearly $70 billion.

The Feud


Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 6.51.47 PM(Image via ST Graphics)


The feud began on July 27 when the 92-year-old Shin dismissed his younger son Shin Dong-bin, the chairman of Lotte Group, along with six board directors. According to the Korea Herald, Lotte Group lost billions of dollars from its operations in China over the past four years, and Dong-bin had reportedly failed to report the losses to his father.

A day after his dismissal, Dong-bin held an emergency board meeting and staged a coup to remove his father as general chairman of the company’s holdings. As a result, the younger son kept both of his executive titles.

The move angered Shin Dong-joo, the oldest son and former CEO of Lotte Group Japan, who called his father’s demotion unlawful. In January 2015, Dong-joo himself was fired after his father discovered that he had overstepped his role by meddling in the management of Korean operations. During his older brother’s absence, Dong-bin was promoted to head Tokyo-based Lotte Holdings, gaining control of both Lotte groups in Japan and Korea.

To win back his father’s support, Dong-joo reportedly flew to Seoul and sought forgiveness. However, the tables have turned after Shin was ousted from his position.

On July 29, Dong-joo presented a letter purportedly signed by his father that proclaimed him as the heir to the company’s holdings, according to CNBC. However, Dong-bin denounced the document, arguing that it is “not legally binding” and that Shin could have written it under duress.

Recently, Dong-bin made a public apology for the chaos that has befallen the company and assured the public that the issue will be resolved. Meanwhile, Shin has called Dong-bin’s actions “unforgivable” and the family feud a “pitiable situation.” The founder added that he never appointed his second son as the heir of Lotte Group.

Is Lotte Korean or Japanese?



(Image via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)


The feud has also sparked a debate over whether Lotte is a Japanese or Korean company. Although Lotte was founded in Tokyo, the company’s operations in Korea are 15 times bigger than those in Japan.

Born and raised in Japan by their Japanese mother, Dong-joo and Dong-bin speak very little Korean, according to Asia One. After KBS aired an interview with Dong-joo and his father speaking in Japanese, Korean viewers have criticized the Shin family for their lack of Korean-speaking abilities and voiced their confusion on Lotte’s corporate identity. In a bid to win public opinion, Dong-bin has apologized and released statements in Korean.

“Lotte is a Korean company,” he said in Korean at a news conference last week. “About 95 percent of the total sales are generated in Korea.”

Still, Japan’s media and public consider Lotte as a Japanese company. Many Koreans are beginning to adopt this viewpoint as well, especially after the media reported that Japanese firms own 99 percent of Seoul-based Lotte Hotel Co.’s shares.


Other chaebol feuds and scandals




Chaebols have been widely criticized for their economic dominance as well as their lack of business ethics and transparency. As these conglomerates prepare to transition ownership to a third-generation, there is growing public concern about corporate heirs not being qualified to effectively run their companies.

Lotte’s recent feud is making headlines, but it’s not the first of its kind.

Hyundai is the first company that comes to mind when discussing issues with the chaebol system. Founded in 1946 by Chung Ju-yung, Hyundai’s rise to success is marred by the untimely deaths of Chung’s sons and a power struggle within the family that continues today.

SK Group, South Korea’s largest wireless mobile phone service provider, has also seen its fair share of scandal. The current chairman of the company, Chey Tae-won, commands the company from prison after he was convicted of embezzling nearly 50 billion won, according to the Straits Times. His younger brother, Chey Jae-won, is also serving prison time for collusion charges.

See Also: South Korean Court Frees ‘Nut Rage’ Executive Heather Cho

While feuds and scandals are nothing new to chaebols, the Lotte succession feud particularly stands out because it’s very rare to see a son oust his father from a company he founded.

What is the future of Lotte?


nabmlotte3815(Photo via Bloomberg)

It is difficult to say what the future holds for these family-run conglomerates. With Lotte’s recent power struggle, investors both domestic and foreign may take more considerations before investing in South Korean companies.

Lotte’s future is a waiting game at this point in time. A shareholder meeting is expected on Aug.17 to discuss the future for the brothers involved in the recent power struggle, according to Yonhap News Agency. Still, some have called for the government to step in.

“If Lotte can’t do it, the government and the National Parliament should execute an all-out reform of cheabol,” said the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice.

Fortunately for some, reform may be on the way. Business Korea reported on Friday the South Korean government, the Saenuri Party, and the Fair Trade Commission met on Aug.6 to deliberate over possible reforms for chaebols including Lotte.

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Featured image via Yonhap

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FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2011, photo, a North Korean waitress walks through a door under a clock with Chinese emblems at a restaurant in Rason city in North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan's rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945. The establishment of "Pyongyang time" is meant to root out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

North Korea Creates Its Own Time Zone to Snub Japan

Pictured above: A North Korean waitress walks through a door under a clock with Chinese emblems at a restaurant in Rason city in North Korea. North Korea said Friday, Aug. 7, 2015, that it will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back its current standard time by 30 minutes. (Photo courtesy of Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

by HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has no time for Japan. Not anymore, at least.

The country will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back by 30 minutes its current standard time, a legacy of the Japanese colonial rule.

The new time zone will take effect Aug. 15 — the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule at the end of World War II, North Korea’s official Central News Agency said Friday. The establishment of “Pyongyang time” will root out that legacy, it said.

Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of GMT. It was set during Japan’s rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945.

“The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling down its land with 5,000-year-long history and culture and pursuing the unheard-of policy of obliterating the Korean nation,” the KCNA dispatch said.

The North’s move appears to be aimed at bolstering the leadership of young leader Kim Jong Un with anti-Japan, nationalistic sentiments, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Kim took power upon the death of his dictator father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

Many Koreans, especially the elderly, on both sides of the border still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its colonial occupation. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labor conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the Japanese military during the war.

South Korea says it uses the same time zone as Japan because it’s more practical and conforms to international practice.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Friday that the North’s action could bring minor disruption at a jointly-run industrial park at the North Korean border city of Kaesong and other inter-Korean affairs. Spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee said the North’s new time zone could also hamper efforts to narrow widening differences between the Koreas.

The two Koreas were divided into the capitalist, U.S.-backed South and the socialist, Soviet-supported North after their 1945 liberation. They remain split along the world’s most heavily fortified border since their 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Most time zones in the world differ in increments of an hour and only a small number of countries like India, Iran and Myanmar use zones that are offset by a half-hour. Nepal is offset by 45 minutes.

The time zone that North Korea plans to use is what a single Korea adopted in 1908, though the peninsula came under the same Japanese zone in 1912, two years after Tokyo’s colonial occupation began. After the liberation, North Korea has maintained the current time zone, while South Korea had briefly used the old zone from 1954 to 1961.


Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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liberation day

South Korea Declares Aug. 14 as Temporary Holiday for Independence Day Festivities

by ALEX HYUN| @ahyundarkb4dawn

This year, the South Korean government has temporarily labeled Aug. 14 as an extra public holiday in conjunction with the country’s 70th Liberation Day holiday held on Aug. 15.

National Liberation Day, also known as Gwangbokjeol, commemorates Korea’s independence from Japanese 1910-1945 colonial rule, which ended after Japan surrendered to the Allies in WWII.

South Korea’s move to designate the 14th as a holiday is a response to the loss of morale and economic profits, which was spurred by the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak.

“We should make the 70th Liberation Day a turning point to boost the public sense of pride, revive the depressed atmosphere and boost consumers’ sentiments,” President Park Geun-hye said during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, according to the Korea Herald.

Such a temporary holiday is not a new phenomenon in South Korea. In July 2002, a holiday was celebrated for Korea qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup. The opening day of the Seoul Olympics also saw a temporary holiday in 1988.

According to the Korea Herald, the government will exempt foreign travelers from paying motorway toll fees and will offer discounted tickets for railway travelers. Fifteen historic sites, including Gyeongbokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace, as well as 41 recreational forests will be open for free during the Liberation Day weekend.

The government also plans to issue an order to close all public offices and agencies on the Aug. 14, a day before Liberation Day festivities begin. Private companies will be given the choice to follow this directive.

South Korea’s tourism industry has plunged in recent months due to the MERS scare, with a 41 percent decrease in incoming international visitors in June, compared to statistics from last year. However, South Korea declared an end to the outbreak on July 27, and foreign tourists have started making their way back to the country. On Tuesday, Seoul reported its 30th consecutive day without an additional MERS case.

South Korea’s Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan expects the temporary holiday to “induce about 1.3 trillion won worth of domestic consumption and create 46,000 new jobs,” according to the Korea Herald.

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Featured image via Yonhap

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triple A project

Two South Koreans Cycle Across USA for ‘Comfort Women’ Awareness


Two South Korean pals are cycling across America to raise awareness for the Korean “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

Baek Deokyeol, 22, and Sim Yong-seok, 22, kicked off their 3,300-mile journey to New York on June 20 in Los Angeles. The two hope that their cycling adventure will encourage the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to act on the three A’s represented in the Triple A Project: admit, apologize, and accompany.

This means that the Japanese government must admit to the fact that Korean women were forced to work in Japanese military brothels, apologize to the many women affected by this wartime atrocity and accompany them—that is, to be in solidarity with the surviving women who want their voices to be heard, according to the Columbia Missourian.


Baek met Sim while serving in the South Korean army, and the two bonded over their common interest in Japan-South Korea relations. Born and raised in Incheon, Sim first became interested in the comfort women issue after watching the 2011 animated film Herstory, which follows the story of Jeon Seo-wun, a woman who was forced to work at a Japanese military brothel in Indonesia at the age of 15. For Seoul-native Baek, he felt compelled to raise awareness for the issue after meeting a Korean comfort woman in person.

See Also: Seoul to Financially Support ‘Herstory’ Sequel

The two cyclists’ personal goal intersects with the goals of U.S. lawmakers and activists who criticized Abe last April for not offering a clear apology in his address to Congress for the wartime sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women.

In a March interview with the Washington Post, Abe briefly acknowledged the plight of comfort women, claiming they were “victimized by human trafficking.” However, critics accused Abe of failing to acknowledge the Japanese army’s role in the recruitment of comfort women and the management of military brothels. As the average age of Korean comfort women reaches 90, activists stress that Japan and Korea must soon reach an agreement on compensation for the survivors, according to the Japan Times.


Biking in sweltering summer heat, Baek suffered from dehydration during the ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on highway Interstate 40, which is surrounded by an expanse of the unforgiving Mojave Desert. Cars headed for Sin City brushed past Baek and Sim’s handlebars at high speeds. The two cyclists experienced as much as seven flat tires in one day. The setbacks on their quest quickly reminded Baek and Sim that they need rest during stops and continued support for their Triple A Project, which they provide updates on their Facebook page and Naver blog.

“Sim Yonseok suffered from road rash when he fell downhill while biking about 20 miles per hour, and he also suffered from a burn when boiling water spilled on his leg as we were preparing for dinner. Our plans were affected by his injuries,” Moon Sooyeun, a translator for Baek and Sim, told KoreAm.

Despite the setbacks and injuries, the duo received love and support from friendly Korean and American strangers at every stop. Baek and Sim said the kindness they received from the community was enough motivation to keep cycling.

“Many were worried about our journey, but they were also proud of us. Some of our friends and family slowly showed interest and movements in the [comfort women] issue as they watched our journey,” said Baek and Sim through their translator. “[The response] was quite positive in the U.S. as well. Many were interested in our journey from L.A. to New York. As they learned the reason for our journey, they listened and shared with others about our project. They cheered us on and told us they would not forget.”


After making stops in Chicago and Washington, D.C., Baek and Sim will be heading to New York, their final destination, on their planned Sept. 8 date.

“We hope to spread the words of the victims as we accompany them. We try to learn more about the issue and although our movement may not be big, we are slowly walking toward a possible solution,” the duo said. “We wish that more people would know about the issue and let their voices be heard little by little. We believe that those voices will make big changes in near future.”

To follow Baek and Sim’s trek across America, visit the Triple A Project Facebook page.

See Also


Former ‘Comfort Women’ Journalist Vows to Take Stand

Korean College Students to Cycle Across North America Over 90-Day Period


All photos courtesy of the Triple A Project

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Japan, South Korea Reach Agreement on UNESCO Heritage Sites

Pictured above: Hashima Island in Nagasaki, Japan. (Photo courtesy of kntrty/Flickr)

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Both South Korea and Japan have received UNESCO world heritage designation for a number of their respective historical sites, following a breakthrough agreement between the two countries.

On Sunday, South Korea agreed to back Japan’s bid for UNESCO world heritage status at a World Heritage Committee meeting in Germany. Japan celebrated the recognition of 23 historic sites after agreeing to formally acknowledge the Korean laborers who were forced to work at several of these locations in the early 20th century.

For years, South Korea had refused to support Japan’s bid to recognize its rapid industrialization revolution (1868-1912), contending that tens of thousands of Korean, Chinese and World War II prisoners were conscripted to work at dozens of hazardous mines and industrial facilities during the Japanese colonial period, which began in 1910 until Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945

During a World Heritage Committee session, Japan’s ambassador to UNESCO, Kuni Sato, said Japan would take measures to remember the “large number of Koreans and others” who were “forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites.” Although she avoided using the word “slave,” Sato promised to establish an information center detailing the laborers’ circumstances.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, however, said in a statement that the decision does not change the government’s stance, claiming that all “requisitioned” workers were settled when the two countries normalized relations in 1965.

South Korea’s foreign ministry still welcomed what it saw as a concession and said in a statement, “For the first time, Japan mentioned the historical fact that Koreans were drafted against their will and forced into labor under harsh conditions in the 1940s.”

The ministry also welcomed Japan’s offer to support Korea’s bid for world heritage recognition of eight historic sites representing the Baekje kingdom, which ruled for six centuries as one of the Three Kingdoms until it was defeated by a Silla and Tang Dynasty alliance around 660 A.D.

The eight sites are the Gongsanseong Fortress; the royal tombs in Songsanri in Gongju; the Gwanbuk-ri administrative buildings and Busosanseong Fortress; the Jeonglimsa Temple site; the royal palace in Wanggung-ri; and the Mireuksa Temple site in Iksan. The Gongju and Buyeo areas were the ancient capitals of the Baekje kingdom.

CHA 1Neungsan-ri ancient royal tombs in Buyeo look vaguely similar to Hobbit holes.(Photo via Korea Herald/Cultural Heritage Administration)

익산_미륵사지_석탑Stone Pagoda of Mireuk Temple Site in Iksan, North Jeolla. (Photo via the Korea Copyright Commission/Public Domain)

gongsanseongGongsanseong (Gongsan Fortress) in Gongju, South Chungcheong. (Photo via Alain/Flickr)

In ancient times, UNESCO said in a statement, the Baekje sites “were at the crossroads of considerable technological, religious, cultural and artistic exchanges between the ancient East Asian kingdoms in Korea, China and Japan.”

World heritage status opens up doors for tourism and financial assistance towards preservation. This also marks the 12th listing of South Korean sites that have received world heritage designation.

UNESCO voted to approve the Baekje sites one day before the Japanese sites, apparently due to Korea’s insistence that Japan included the proper terms in acknowledging its history of forced labor.

The UNESCO agreement offers some relief in the strained relations between Japan and South Korea. Japan, especially in the weeks before the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The two countries haven’t held a bilateral summit, with President Park Geun-hye refusing to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe until Japan does more for the Korean “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II.

In a speech to the U.S. Congress back in April, Abe did acknowledge Japan’s actions in bringing “sufferings” to the peoples in Asian countries” and said he would uphold the apologies by previous Japanese prime ministers. He did not, however, outright apologize.

See Also


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Former Japanese Prime Minister Urges Abe to Uphold Japan’s WWII Apologies

Pictured above: Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama at the Japan National Press Club. (Screenshot captured from JNPC footage)

by MARI YAMGUCHI | @mariyamaguchi
Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — Two former political leaders who apologized over Japan’s World War II atrocities said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should not water down their words when he marks the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.

Japanese leaders’ war anniversary statements have always been closely watched, and this year’s is getting extra attention because it’s a key anniversary and Abe is considered a revisionist.

Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who authored Japan’s landmark 1995 apology on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, said Abe should “honestly spell out” the country’s wartime actions to address growing international concern that he may revise history.

Yohei Kono, who as chief Cabinet secretary in 1993 apologized to victims of Japan’s wartime military sexual exploitation, said he wondered whether a new statement by Abe is even necessary. He said a statement to mark the 70th anniversary, if issued, should not backpedal from any of the apologies that Abe promised to inherit from nearly a dozen past leaders.

“The international community is watching what (Abe) is really thinking,” Murayama told reporters during a rare joint appearance with Kono at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.

“It is important to clear any doubts that he has raised overseas,” Murayama said.

The historic statements by both men were highly regarded internationally as signs Japan had come to terms with its wartime past and they improved relations with its Asian neighbors. However, both statements have become unpopular among Japanese conservatives who say Japan should stop focusing on negative history to restore national pride.

Kono warned that any attempt to whitewash historical facts “hurts the Japanese people’s reputation.”

Since taking office in December 2012, Abe has said he would not necessarily follow the Murayama apology. He also has said there is no evidence that so-called comfort women were exploited through coercion by Japanese authorities, remarks seen by critics as undermining the Kono apology. But, after criticism from China and South Korea, Abe later promised not to change either of the statements.

Tokyo’s relations with the two victims of its wartime militarism have worsened under Abe’s leadership, particularly with South Korea—a former Japanese colony where many of the sex slaves were from.

Abe has given mixed signals as to how closely his upcoming statement will mirror Murayama’s apology. He is seen as avoiding the terms aggression, colonial rule and atrocities, including “comfort women.”

Murayama and Kono said those were undeniable historical facts that must be remembered to maintain trust and confidence.

Abe has convened experts to advise him on what to say. In his past Aug. 15 speeches, Abe omitted war apologies. He merely said Japan faces its past and keeps its peace pledges.

Murayama said Tuesday that the point is not for Abe to offer an empty apology, but to show the world that Japan’s leader has squarely faced the country’s wartime past and pursued its pacifist pledges.



Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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