I don’t know how you hold this view and be considered credible anywhere.
â€œThe definition of what constitutes aggression has yet to be established in academia or in the international community,â€ Mr. Abe said on Tuesday, according to Japanâ€™s Asahi Shimbun newspaper. â€œThings that happened between nations will look differently depending on which side you view them from.â€
In some translations, the hawkish Mr. Abe was quoted wondering about â€œwhat constitutes invasion.â€ Japanese language experts said â€œinvasionâ€ and â€œaggressionâ€ were both valid translations of what Mr. Abe said.
Mr. Abe, whose right-wing Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide election in December, also questioned his countryâ€™s pacifist post-war constitution, saying it had been drafted by â€œoccupying forces.â€ Japan was under U.S. administration in 1947 when two American military officers drafted the constitution, which prohibits acts of war and limits the scope of the Japanese military.
â€œItâ€™s like saying Hitlerâ€™s invasion of Poland wasnâ€™t really an invasion. If a German chancellor had said the same thing, he or she would have had to resign,â€ South Korean political scientist Ko Sang-tu told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
An estimated 20 million people were killed in China between the outbreak of war in 1937 and Japanâ€™s surrender to Allied forces in 1945. In Korea, which was first annexed by Japan in 1910, hundreds of thousands of men were used by Japanese troops as slave labourers during the Second World War, while hundreds of thousands of women were forced to become â€œcomfort womenâ€ for the Japanese army.
Mr. Abe made his remarks in response to a question in parliament about his governmentâ€™s position toward a 1995 apology issued by Japanâ€™s then-prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, for Japanâ€™s â€œcolonial rule and aggressionâ€ in Korea.
Mr. Abe isnâ€™t alone in his revisionism. He spoke the same day that a record 168 Japanese lawmakers visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine â€“ where 14 Class A war criminals are among the honoured soldiers â€“ drawing howls of protest from Beijing and Seoul, where visits to Yasukuni are seen as symbolic of Japanâ€™s refusal to atone for its crimes against its neighbours. Former prime minister Taro Aso, now Mr. Abeâ€™s Deputy Prime Minister, visited, while Mr. Abe â€“ who visited last year while opposition leader â€“ sent a ritual offering.