Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed “deep repentance” over Japan’s role in World War II, but he stopped short of issuing his own apology. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday expressed "deep repentance" over Japan's role in World War II, even as he declared Tokyo's emergence as a global security player in the face of China's rising power in Asia. "My dear friends, on behalf of Japan and the Japanese people, I offer with profound respect my eternal condolences to the souls of all American people that were lost during World War II," Abe told a Joint Session of Congress. Using the high-profile platform of a landmark speech to the U.S. Congress, Abe insisted that Japan must not avert its eyes from the suffering of Asian peoples from its wartime behavior but he stopped short of issuing his own apology, instead upholding statements by his predecessors. With Abe's comments on Japan's war record unlikely to satisfy critics who had demanded he go further, the conservative premier chose to focus more on the future of the U.S.-Japan military alliance and press skeptical lawmakers to back a long-delayed Pacific free-trade pact. Abe's speech to Congress was a moment deeply symbolic of the reconciliation between former World Two enemies who are now the closest of allies. Abe spoke from the spot where President Franklin Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Imperial Japan after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The speech also coincided with Japan's national holiday marking the birthday of its wartime emperor, Hirohito. Abe, who has sought to cast Japan's aggressive World War Two-era conduct with a less apologetic tone, can expect intense scrutiny of his speech for how he handles history. The issue remains a sensitive one for Asian neighbors, especially China and U.S. ally South Korea, nearly 70 years after Japan's defeat.