Official Narratives

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Here is a basic overview of the Japanese Government’s Position on the History Issue. See also the Issues Regarding History page and the 2005 pamphlet 60 Years: The Path of a Nation Striving for Global Peace.

Official Statements

Here are some of the important statements that show the transformation of the official narrative.

1993: Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (the Kono Statement on the “comfort women”).

1995: Resolution to Renew the Determination for Peace on the Basis of Lessons Learned from History (50th anniversary Diet resolution)

1995: Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama “On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war’s end” (15 August 1995)

A video by broadcaster TBC about Murayama’s tenure as prime minister, including a significant section about the 1995 statement.

The Murayama Statement formed the basis of subsequent statements, such as …

2005: Statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

2010: Statement by Prime Minister Naoto Kan

… until the Murayama Statement was effectively rescinded by the 2015 Abe Statement.

2015: Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The Abe Statement

The Ceremony to Commemorate the War Dead (15 August)

The Ceremony to Commemorate the War Dead has been held since 1963. Here are some highlights from the 2017 (pre-pandemic) ceremony.

A short video of the 2017 ceremony.

From 1993 to 2012 it was customary to acknowledge the suffering of people in other nations. Note the difference between the statement by Naoto Kan in 2010 and Shinzo Abe in 2013.

2010: Address by Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the Sixty-Fifth Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead.

2013: Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Sixty-Eighth Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead.

From 2015, Emperor Akihito started using the term “remorse” (hansei) in his address after it had stopped being used by the prime minister. This new practice has been continued by Emperor Naruhito (see for example his address in 2020).

Forward to Remembering the Dead