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  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 9:08pm
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SINGAPORE

China and Japan must put second world war behind them, says Singaporean PM

Lee Hsien Loong tells US think tank that neighbours must end arguments over past atrocities to ensure peace in Asia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 11:19am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 6:34pm

Singapore’s prime minister on Tuesday urged Japan and its neighbours to put the second world war 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 neighbourhood.”

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

“[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 the second world war. 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 programmes.

On Monday, Beijing 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.

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This article is now closed to comments

Jonathan Smith
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe keeps stirring up trouble in Asia with provocative actions over the Diaoyu Islands, belittling the Koreans over the sex-slaves issue, inciting the Vietnamese and Filipinos to create trouble. Japan under the Shinzo Government is uncivilised and aggressive and needs to be contained.
Max Diethelm
German remorse and more than USD$ 50 Billion reparations to Israel allowed Germany to put the second world war and the holocaust behind it. Japanese intransigence and lack of remorse over Japanese aggression and war crimes in the second world war keeps Japan perpetually trapped in a vicious cycle of provocations and bad relations with her neighbours. Obviously Shinzo Abe praying to war criminals at the infamous Yasukuni Shrine and constant disputes over the Japanese coercion of the hundreds of thousands of sex-slaves poison relations even further. It's quite obvious the Japanese government under PM Shinzo Abe have no interests in respecting history or in having good relations with Japan's neighbours. As long as Japanese lack of remorse and provocations persists, Japan's position in Asia and the world is fraught with misgivings. This situation will continue until the Japanese have the good sense to change.
daily
I think the Singapore PM should learn to shut up where the issue doesn't concern him.
How About
SCMP the contents and quotes of Lee Hsien Loong was clearly directed at Japan and Abe so why does your headline read China and Japan, if anything it should be Japan with its neighbours! This is clearly another try to rile up the adversarial position.
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Jonathan Smith
You can't use civilised methods when dealing with the uncivilised and uncouth Japanese who are expert liars.
A Kuro
Asking Shinzo Abe who worships war criminals regularly at the Yasukuni War Shrine in order to glorify war to change into a more kinder and peaceful nature will be impossible. Japanese like him are belligerent and aggressive, lies on everything, denies their barbaric war history while at the same time being provocative. Japan is a hopeless pathetic country.
Mikado
Japan keeps acting like a barbaric country. There isn't much China and Korea can do except to keep reminding the Japanese not to remain barbaric savages.
53a92573-da5c-4c11-879a-52c50a3209cb
Germany admitted the history and so a new chapter began. Japan deny what happened and still keeping their aggression policy active. How can China forget?? Is the Singaporean PM retarded?!
baysidedweller
"which have never been properly put to rest the way they were put to rest in Europe after the war"
“So it’s really a sovereign choice for the Japanese to make,”
From these 2 statements, you get the sense that what Lee Hsien Loong is trying to say in a round about way is Japan has to be like Germany, take responsibility wholeheartedly for the atrocities committed in both China and Korea so these issues will never come up again with China and South Korea.
Unfortunately, Abe is unwilling to accept responsibility due his revisionism leanings. So the conflict continues until Abe is out of office possibly due to the failure in his abenomics initiative.
53a92573-da5c-4c11-879a-52c50a3209cb
Those with the guts to admit their wrong-doings and corrected the mistake shall be forgiven
Those who lie and refuse to wake up do not deserve forgiveness. They should rot in hell.

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