Japan, neighbors must put World War Two behind them: Singapore PM

WASHINGTON Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:09pm EDT

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister's office in Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur April 7, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister's office in Putrajaya outside Kuala Lumpur April 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Samsul Said

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Singapore's prime minister on Tuesday urged Japan and its neighbors to put World War Two behind them, saying that if they kept reopening issues dating back to the conflict it would be a "continuing sore" in their relations.

"One of the reasons Japan’s difficulties are not just with China, but with also Korea is because of reopening of issues that go back to the Second World War and before, which have never been properly put to rest the way they were put to rest in Europe after the war," Lee Hsien Loong told a think tank during a visit to Washington.

"So it’s really a sovereign choice for the Japanese to make," Lee said, adding that he was sure the United States would be urging Japan to "act cautiously and circumspectly and try to develop its relationship with its near neighborhood."

The legacy of the war was also a matter for Korea and China, Lee said.

"They (Japan) can't do it themselves. It takes two hands to clap, so you need the Chinese and Koreans as well," he said.

"Unless you can put the Second World War behind you, and not keep on reopening issues of comfort women, of aggression, of whether or not bad things were done during the war, I think this is going to be a continuing sore."

"Comfort women" is the euphemism for women forced to serve in military brothels serving Japanese soldiers before and during World War Two. Many came from China and Korea.

On Monday, South Korea and China protested against Tokyo's review of a landmark 1993 apology to such women and said Japan should stop trying to whitewash history.

Seoul accused Tokyo of trying to undermine its own apology by saying that Japan and South Korea had worked together on the sensitive wording.

South Korea says Japan has not sufficiently atoned for the women's suffering and any attempt at questioning the legitimacy of the apology is an indication of its insincerity.

This and other legacies of Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula has complicated ties between two strong allies of the United States in the region that are also, along with an increasingly assertive China, involved in diplomatic efforts to end North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

On Monday, China also called on Japan to take steps to handle the problems of its historical legacy.

Japan invaded China in 1937 and ruled parts of it with a brutal hand for eight years, leaving a legacy of bitterness that has been inflamed by recent territorial disputes. Singapore also suffered brutal Japanese occupation from 1942-1945.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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Comments (4)
RajeevTutu wrote:
Mr. Lee’s comment makes a lot of sense. Based on what Japan did in WW2, at least they should make an honest and a whole hearted apology to its neighbors where mass sufferings were committed during the war. Japan has refused to make that true apology. They should also settle any restitutions. After that, Japan’s neighbors should tone down its voice against Japan. Japan should open its immigration door to allow a few millions of Chinese and Korean workers into the country to ensure it stops the demographic decline. US should get involved in the negotiation with all parties and be an honest broker. So far, the US has seen as sided heavily on the Japanese side, that doesn’t help in resolving the situation.

Jun 24, 2014 8:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
blah77 wrote:
What is this? Another country telling Japan that it needs to face up and deal with its own historical legacy? Blasphemous! I’m surprise this article made it onto a western media outlet considering 99% of the reporting I’ve read regarding the subject points the finger of fault squarely at China. Oh, that and of course ignoring similar tensions between S. Korea and Japan since they are both US allies and there is an obvious need to put up a facade of total harmony in the unified “contain China” crusade.

Someone at Reuters obviously didn’t get the memo that it needs to blame everything on China in order to continue the demonization process.

Jun 24, 2014 11:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AtlasMirror wrote:
It is good to see Mr. Lee make comment on this. See what this liar Abe did:

1. Deny Tokyo Trial
2. Deny comfort women
3. Deny WWII war crimes
4. Changing constitution for imperail army return and bring back evil emperor to be head of States.
5. Openly admitted himself an extreme right member in front of UN.
6. Increase military spending even under US protection.
7. Worshipped the ghostly WWII war criminals Shrine as an great insult to all WWII victims. There is no hero there.
8. Keeping the stolen islands that is not belong to Japan which JP needs to return to China after WWII defeat.
9. Changing school text and put incorrect history to school children.
10. Still not repent from WWII compare with Germany which is much much better than Japan.
11. Hiding the nuclear weapon materials which violates the constitution. Now return to US becasue under US pressure.
12. U.S. alarmed about plutonium stockpile growing from Rokkasho plant.
13. Lying to the whole world saying China digital military spending in past years. Compare in 2013 military spending, Japan is 40 % of China and China is 30% of US.
14. Showing Abe is a two faced man. One saying Japan needs to improve China relationship but on the other hand trying to contain China with other countries.
15. Family backgound: Abe is from the famous WWII war criminal family member. His grandfather Kishi ws a key cabinet member of the evil imperial Japan army.

Abe and his ally going to ultranationalist direction making anger of neighbouring countries. In fact, Abe’s objective is to bring back the lost glory of the evil imperial Japan army.

Jun 25, 2014 10:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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