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If Abe could only say sorry

By Simon Tay | China Daily | Updated: 2015-05-09 08:32

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made history as the first Japanese head of government to address the special joint session of the US Congress. He expressed remorse for World War II and touched on issues sensitive to Americans, including Pearl Harbor, while emphasizing his commitment to strengthen their alliance. His emphasis on the common values shared by the two countries - "the rule of law, democracy, and freedom" - went down well with most Americans.

But not so for some in Asia. While Abe expressed "remorse", China and the Republic of Korea have quickly and strongly criticized the refusal to acknowledge and directly apologize for the atrocities committed by the Japanese during WWII.

In truth, what was said was better than some feared. Not long before speaking in the US, Abe sent a ritual offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals, while over 100 members of the Diet also visited in person. There have been bouts of "Abenesia" that have downplayed Japan's WWII atrocities which characterize the conservative, right-wing thinking that many believe reflect the current leaning.

If Abe could only say sorry

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