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No customary war apology from Japan

Published 22/04/2015

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his speech at the Asian African Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his speech at the Asian African Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP)

South Korea has expressed deep regret that Japan's leader did not repeat his predecessors' apologies for the country's aggression during the Second World War.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Asian and African leaders in Indonesia that Japan has "feelings of deep remorse" over the war.

But he did not express a "heartfelt apology" for Japan's past "colonial rule and aggression" - key phrases that previous prime ministers have used in official statements about the war.

Abe's remarks are fuelling speculation he will also not apologise in a key statement in August marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

Abe was to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later in Jakarta, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Ties between Japan and its closest neighbours China and South Korea, both victims of Japanese militarism before and during the Second World War, have worsened in recent years largely over history and territorial issues. Critics say Abe's administration has stepped up efforts to whitewash the country's wartime atrocities.

On Monday, Abe said he does not plan to repeat a landmark apology made in 1995 by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama that included the key phrases.

Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi made a similar apology in 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, and at the Asian-African meeting the same year.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry expressed "deep regret because Prime Minister Abe omitted the key expressions of apology and repentance".

Asked about Abe's comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular ministry briefing in Beijing that the global community is "looking forward to seeing that Japan can squarely face and reflect upon the history of aggression, so as to improve the reconciliation with neighbouring countries in Asia and gain trust from the global community".

"We hope the Japanese side can take heed of this call for justice from the international community," he said.

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