Japanese prime minister says he will express remorse for World War II

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzio Abe told a news conference on Monday that he would express remorse for Japan’s actions during World War II. He said that the government would make a new statement on August 15 that, in addition to remarks made by previous administrations, would include regret for Japan’s actions during the war.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, which officially ended the war on September 2, 1945.

The official government stance towards the war was set by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995, 50 years after Japan’s surrender. In a move to promote peaceful relations among countries in the Asia-Pacific, Murayama stated that Japanese colonial rule caused “tremendous damage and suffering” to the people living under occupation, for which he offered his “heartfelt apology.”

Abe’s exclusion of an official apology in today’s remarks has got people concerned as to whether he will maintain the same tone set by Murayama. The debate over the extent of Japanese war crimes has soured relations between Japan and neighboring countries. China’s foreign ministry criticized Abe last August for honoring war criminals at a Buddhist Temple.

Abe also sided with Japanese critics of Takashi Uemura, an investigative journalist who wrote a piece examining Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded to Abe’s statement today, saying that “we hope Japan will be consistent in its words and actions, have a correct understandingand attitude towards its history of aggression, and abide by its statements and promises regarding history.”