Ex-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed scrapping three past official statements reflecting on the country's World War II atrocities, the Sankei Shimbun reported on Tuesday.
Abe said if his Liberal Democratic Party takes power again, the statements "need to be revised. The new government must come up with a new opinion."
The statements were made by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kiichi Miyazawa in 1982 pledging to consider Japan's World War II atrocities in authorizing school textbooks, by former Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 which acknowledged the existence of "comfort women" and to a certain extent the role played by the Imperial Army, and in 1995 by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, apologizing to all Asian victims of Japanese aggression.
Abe is seeking the chairmanship of the DLP next month, and his remarks are seen as a bid for the rightwing vote. Japanese media believe the DLP will become the ruling party in lower house elections expected in November.
Abe pledged to combine the different factions that support scrapping the past statements and revising the country's pacifist postwar constitution. He praised Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who recently claimed there is no evidence that the sex slaves were dragged off by the Japanese military to serve in battlefront brothels, saying his comments were "courageous," and offered to join forces with him.
During his brief 2006-2007 tenure as prime minister, Abe denied the military had any hand in mobilizing the sex slaves and revised Japan's education law so as to allow school textbooks to whitewash the country's World War II atrocities. Abe said "excessive consideration" for neighboring countries "does not lead to genuine friendship."
His maternal grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was a war criminal who went on to become prime minister after being released from prison.
Abe's comments are the latest in a string of denials by high-ranking Japanese government officials of their country's past deeds. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda also said on Monday that there is no evidence showing that the sex slaves, euphemistically called "comfort women" in Japanese, were dragged off against their will.