Former Prime Minister Murayama Tells Japan’s Leader Abe, “Study Up or Shut Up!”

image (3)

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to make a statement today to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II. He said he will uphold the statements made previously on the subject, but people are concerned that he will downplay Japan’s previous apologies.

Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who made the 50th anniversary statement on the war, spoke at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan recently, expressing his concerns with Abe’s statement. There is worry that Abe may downplay the Murayama Statement, which apologizes to Korea and China for crimes committed in WWII. Abe has been making comments in attempts to downplay the Murayama Statement, as a result, more and more young people are paying attention to the statement and asking questions about it. Many of these young people have been born after the war, and it’s prompted them to start learning about Japan’s war history on their own.

Due to the fact that Abe is trying to go on the offensive and bulk up Japan’s military, Murayama thinks that there is great danger in the fact that Abe cannot acknowledge that crimes committed during the war were a mistake. Now with the upcoming 70th anniversary of the war, Murayama feels that it is a milestone year that Japan needs to acknowledge.

The Potsdam Declaration was a statement issued in 1945 that called for Japan’s surrender during World War II. It was essentially an ultimatum given to Japan by the U.S., U.K. and China stating that Japan must surrender or face consequences. When asked about the Potsdam Declaration, Abe said that he has “not read the Potsdam Declaration in detail” and he doesn’t believe that the war was a mistake.

Abe’s crusade to nullify or even destroy Japan’s post-pacifist constitution, which also gave the Japanese citizen “basic human rights”, is not given him any popularity points within the country as well as Japan’s neighboring countries. He is intent on destroying Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Article 9 is a clause in the constitution outlawing Japan from using war as a means to settle disputes.

Japan has experienced peace for 70 years, which is an extraordinary thing. Japanese people are worried that the tensions with other countries will escalate if Abe continues to along this path.

Murayama noted, “We’re approaching 70th anniversary of the war, and Abe wants to issue his own statement on the war, and many people wonder how it will differ and what Abe wants to say. When I spoke, it was the 50th anniversary of the war, a very important milestone. It was a time when Japan was realizing it was a member of the Asian community. It was thought we should put an end to this lingering history. We should apologize for the errors we made, and vow never to repeat them.”

Murayama also noted that the security legislation Abe and the LDP is pushing through the Diet is considered unconstitutional by an overwhelming majority of scholars.

“If it is the decision of the cabinet to change the constitution (at will), this kind of action cannot be permitted. If you want to reinterpret the constitution, you must actually revise it, something people say is near-impossible.”

Referencing the growing protests to the security legislation, Murayama added, “It’s only natural Japanese have become angry. I’ve repeated how Japan has experienced peace for so many years. We need to study history.”

In that statement that we need to study history and his pointing out that Abe had not read or understood the Potsdam Declaration, Murayama seemed to be saying to his successor, “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. And if you knew your history, you’d make a proper apology. Get smart or shut up.” In many ways, the press conference was like a wise, cranky old teacher scolding a lazy student. However, will the lazy student listen?

 

 

 

 

 

Comments
5 Responses to “Former Prime Minister Murayama Tells Japan’s Leader Abe, “Study Up or Shut Up!””
  1. Runa says:

    That’s right.
    An American isn’t apologizing about atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki yet.
    I want you to apologize early.

  2. Dave H says:

    The very start of the statement rubbed me the wrong way. Rather than offering words of reflection, he proceeded to explain the events leading up to WW2, going all the way back to the Russia-Japanese War, hinting that Japan’s hand was forced and that while it was sorry for its transgressions, the war was an inevitable result. In a very subdued manner, Abe basically was presenting his own view on history and that of the revisionists. He has been commended by some for including the four key phrases, the important thing is how they are put into context, and unfortunately the context he presented in his statement was very muddled. One Mainichi Shinbun reporter covering the Diet spoke with a person close to Abe, and according to him Abe didn’t want to put any of those phrases in their. I assume that diplomatic pressure (most likely from Washington) and calls for pragmatism from certain elements with the LDP is what brought him to include those phrases. In short, the statement was much more subdued than I expected, but in saying that it was a restrained and heavily filtered version of his own views on history. Murayama has already elaborated on Abe’s perception of history for us, so I want ramble on any more.

  3. Dave H says:

    The very start of the statement rubbed me the wrong way. Rather than offering words of reflection, he proceeded to explain the events leading up to WW2, going all the way back to the Russia-Japanese War, hinting that Japan’s hand was forced and that while it was sorry for its transgressions, the war was an inevitable result. In a very subdued manner, Abe basically was presenting his own view on history and that of the revisionists. He has been commended by some for including the four key phrases, but the important thing is how they are put into context, and unfortunately the context he presented in his statement was very muddled. One Mainichi Shinbun reporter covering the Diet spoke with a person close to Abe, and according to him Abe didn’t want to put any of those phrases in there. I assume that diplomatic pressure (most likely from Washington) and calls for pragmatism from certain elements with the LDP is what brought him to include those phrases. In short, the statement was much more subdued than I expected, but in saying that it was a restrained and heavily filtered version of his own views on history. Murayama has already elaborated on Abe’s perception of history for us, so I wont ramble on any more.

  4. Leenita says:

    Mr. Murayama and Ms. Iina should read the Wikipedia page entitled “List of war apology statements issued by Japan.” There is no point in apologizing. Nothing will ever be enough. Any all apologies are ignored and forgotten the next day (unless you’re a Wikipedia reader).

    And who do you make an apology to? Who is designated as the official aplogy receiver and evaluator, whose judgment will be accepted by all? As the Wikipedia list shows, the next leader/administration/generation in China and Korea systematically reject all previous apologies and demand new ones. Politically, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Domestic problems, economy down? There’s nothing to see here, hey look over there, Japan is not apologizing!

    A big part of the problem is institutionalized hate education in China and Korea. Kids are taught hate for Japan from childhood. In Japan the children aren’t taught hate, and most Japanese do not hate Chinese and Koreans as a result. They are puzzled and disappointed by how China and Korea behaves toward Japan. Should later generations be forced to feel guilty for past colonial and wartime activities of their country? Or might everyone be better to just move on and get along?

    • Reina Iino Reina Iino says:

      Hello,

      I agree with you in most of the points in your comment. Having lived and taught in Seoul, I have seen the institutionalized hate for Japan first hand, and with my students, I tried to correct that by teaching them the opposite.

      I wasn’t trying to say that Japan has never made an apology, I am aware that it has happened, but that Abe seems to be going on the offense, which will not help inter-Asia relations.

      Thank you,
      Reina IinO

Leave A Comment