Outside editorials: Shinzo Abe's double talk

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The following editorial first appeared in the Washington Post:

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The toughest player in the "six-party" talks on North Korea last week was not the Bush administration, but Japan. Tokyo is insisting that North Korea supply information about 17 Japanese citizens allegedly kidnapped by the North decades ago, refusing to discuss any improvement in relations until it receives answers.

This single-note policy is portrayed as a matter of high moral principle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has used Japan's victims to rally his wilting domestic support.

Abe has a right to complain about Pyongyang's stonewalling. What's odd - and offensive - is his parallel campaign to roll back Japan's acceptance of responsibility for the abduction, rape and sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of women during World War II. Responding to the U.S. Congress cal for an official apology, Abe has twice this month claimed there is no documentation proving that the Japanese military participated in abducting the women.

In fact the historical record on this issue is no less convincing than the evidence that North Korea kidnapped Japanese citizens. Historians say up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries were enslaved and Japanese soldiers participated in abductions.

If Abe seeks international support in learning the fate of Japan's kidnapped citizens, he should accept responsibility for Japan's own crimes - and apologize to the victims he has slandered.

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