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War Crimes? Not by Japan’s Standards

Posted February. 16, 2006 02:59,   


Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, one of the strongest candidates for the next Japanese Prime Minister, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso have claimed that Japanese Class-A war criminals are not actually criminals according to Japanese civil law.

According to Mainichi Shimbun, Abe and Aso stated the above in response to a question raised by former Japanese Democratic Party leader Katsuya Okada at a Lower House budget committee meeting on February 14.

Okada criticized Japan’s distorted historical perceptions, saying, “Once Japan accepted the legitimacy of war crimes trials [by signing the Treaty of San Francisco], it is right for Japan to be placed under the control of it.” But Abe downplayed the stipulations of the San Francisco Treaty.

Abe’s statement can be interpreted as saying that signing the treaty was a painful decision for Japan because Japan could not become an independent country unless it accepted the terms of the San Francisco Treaty.

Abe developed his own logic, saying that the trial for war criminals in Tokyo was held by the Allied Nations, not by the Japanese government, and that Japan’s Class-A criminals are not criminals by Japanese standards.

Meanwhile, Korean ambassador to Japan Nah Jong-il, who came to Seoul for the meeting of heads of Korea`s overseas diplomatic missions, stated at a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) office, “As long as Japan’s prime minister or a foreign minister visits Yasukuni Shrine, it will be impossible for the two countries to have a normal relationship.”

Nah said, “Because the philosophy of Yasukuni Shrine is to justify or idealize Japan’s past aggression, Korea can’t work with Japan to develop normal relationships while putting aside the Yasukuni Shrine issue,” but added that despite the two countries’ rigid historical visions toward past history, it is a principle to let practical diplomatic negotiations go on.

Kwang-Am Cheon iam@donga.com