PM Abe: I’ve not read 1945 Potsdam Declaration

May 21, 2015

“I have not read the document in detail, so I cannot make a comment on it.” During a Diet discussion on May 20, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said this in response to Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo’s questioning of him regarding the Potsdam Declaration.

In that one-on-one debate with the prime minister, Shii noted that the Potsdam Declaration states clearly that Japan’s war is a war of aggression for the purpose of “world conquest”. He said to Abe, “Do you concur with the view as expressed in this declaration?”

Pointing out that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Shii said that the global community is paying attention to what attitude Japan takes towards its past war. Shii again questioned Abe, “Do you think Japan’s war was a wrong war?”

PM Abe avoided giving a direct answer, just saying that “as a whole” he will follow successive governments’ statements, including the 1995 Murayama Statement which expressed “deep remorse” for Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression”.

Shii went on to emphasize that the war legislation the Abe administration is aiming to enact during the current Diet session intends to enable the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to join wars abroad with the U.S. even when Japan is not under attack.

The JCP chair demanded the withdrawal of the war-related bills, stressing that the prime minister, who cannot even admit that Japan’s war was an aggressive war, is unable to judge whether a war launched by the United States is justifiable or not.

At a press conference after the debate, Shii pointed out that the Potsdam Declaration is the starting point of Japan’s postwar democracy. “A person who has not carefully read such a fundamental document is not fit to serve as prime minister,” he said.

On July 26, 1945, the leaders of China, Britain, and the United States met in the German city of Potsdam and issued a joint declaration demanding Japan’s unconditional surrender. On August 14, the Imperial government decided to accept the declaration at a cabinet meeting attended by the Emperor.

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