The Republic of Korea is bracing for the worst in its ties with Japan, as the Abe administration is set to disclose the results of its controversial scrutiny into the background of the Kono Statement, one of Japan's key apologies for its wartime atrocitie
In the statement, issued in 1993 by then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, the Japanese government acknowledged for the first time that the Japanese army was involved in forcing women from Korea and elsewhere into sexual slavery during World War II.
The statement is regarded by Seoul as one of the cornerstones of its relationship with Tokyo, as it reflects the true historical perspective that the Korea expects of Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has officially pledged to respect the statement. But at heart, he does not believe in it. He views it as something that stands in the way of realising his vision, says a commentary of the Korea Herald.
“Deserving love, respect”
Abe’s dream is to make Japan “a beautiful country”, a country that has done nothing shameful and therefore deserves the love and respect of young Japanese.
Abe is seeking to undercut the statement, which apologises for Japan’s wrongdoings and acknowledges the shame, without officially disavowing it.
In February, he launched a five-member panel to find out how the statement was compiled, with the intention of showing it was not based on facts.
Earlier this week, Japanese media outlets reported that the Tokyo government might announce, based on the panel’s findings, that the statement was the result of mediation between Korea and Japan.
Such an announcement would seriously undermine the credibility of the statement, as it would introduce the claim that Japan’s 1993 apology was based not on historical facts but on some kind of political bargaining with Korea.
The reports from Tokyo have understandably put Seoul on edge and Korean officials have pointed out that the Kono Statement was based on a study conducted by a Japanese government-commissioned research team,
They also warned that, should the Japanese government make
an announcement that erodes
the statement, the Seoul government would disclose historical documents proving the involvement of the Japanese government and military in running frontline brothels.
Abe should make a wise decision and not undermine the statement so as to avoid further alienating Japan from the rest of the countries in the region.