New Japan gov't can bring better stance to WW2 victims: MP

A change of government in Japan could bring a more sympathetic attitude to victims of WW2, an opposition lawmaker said.

New Japan gov't can bring better stance to WW2 victims: MP

A change of government in Japan could bring a more sympathetic attitude to victims of the country's past militarism, improving relations with other nations, an opposition lawmaker said on Friday.

Opinion polls show the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has a chance of grabbing power in an election that must be held by October at the latest, breaking a half-century of almost continuous rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Despite the pressing economic concerns facing Japan, a DPJ government could be more willing to delve into the events of World War Two, Yukihisa Fujita said.

"Many DPJ lawmakers understand the importance of setting Japan's diplomacy on a different course from the one it has followed since the war," Fujita told a news conference.

Ties with neighbouring China and South Korea, where many suffered under Japanese colonisation in the early 20th century, have frequently been frayed by what critics say is whitewashing of Japan's past in government-approved textbooks.

Fujita showed transcripts of his telephone conversations with Australian survivors of forced labour at mines belonging to the family of Prime Minister Taro Aso, an issue over which he has peppered Aso with parliamentary questions.

Aso last month admitted a family company used prisoners of war to work in the mines, but brushed further questions aside by saying he was only a small child at the time.

"As the descendant of those who ran the family company, I want him to make an appropriate apology," Fujita said.

"I also think he bears responsibility for ignoring the facts, which came out while he was foreign minister and prime minister."

Though initially alone in pursuing Aso on the issue, Fujita, who said he was inspired by meeting British former prisoners of war, said other party lawmakers had come to realise the effect Japan's attitude to its past had on relations with other countries.

"If the DPJ takes power I think we can expect progress on these problems in dealing with the war, including former prisoners-of-war, and on building trusting relationships with other countries," he added.

Many Democratic lawmakers also back a bill that would set up a bureau to organise wartime records and handle research, he said, adding that he expected the matter to be included in the party's manifesto for the next election.

But wartime compensation is a little-known issue in Japan and the DPJ, which was formed by a wide range of former LDP members, younger conservatives and socialists, could find it difficult to reach consensus on the issue.

Court cases involving other cases of forced labour have been thrown out by Japanese courts, which say such cases were settled by post-war treaties.

Reuters

Last Mod: 06 Şubat 2009, 12:21
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