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New Japanese Foreign Affairs minister reaffirms 1993 WWII regrets

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

TOKYO After years of tiptoeing around the issue since Japan in 1993 first expressed its regrets and sorrow over brutalities committed during World War II, the new Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs recently expressed his "sincere apologies and deep sorrow" to his Dutch colleague Maxime Verhagen. Hirofumi Nakasone also told his visitor that the statement reflected his personal feelings on the issue. The subject was raised again as a result of post-1993 ambivalent actions and confusing signals by Japanese officials, which caused survivors of WWII Japanese oppression to press their governments into demanding some form of action. U.S. Congress, the European Union and the Second Chamber in the Netherlands all adopted resolutions which are critical of Japan's denial of its WWII aggression and brutalities. Survivor groups particularly see Japan's reluctance to acknowledge its sordid history as an attempt to sidestep their grievances and to outlast them. They generally desire some form of compensation as well as public acknowledgement of their oppression through creditable history courses taught in Japanese schools. Female survivors who were forced into prostitution are seeking compensation directly from the Japanese government, not from voluntary contributors as has been the case in a limited way in the recent past. Verhagen, who laid a wreath at the Hodogaya cemetery where 26 Dutch POW's were laid to rest, was accompanied there by Japanese officials, believed to be a first.