Tony Abbott says Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much anticipated statement on World War II should make it easier for other countries to accept Japan’s commitment to a better future.
In the past 70 years, Australia and Japan had created a special relationship based on friendship, trust and shared values, the prime minister said in Adelaide.
Both nations were united in a commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law and above all else, peace.
Mr Abbott said Prime Minister Abe’s apology built on previous Japanese government statements.
“His words should make it easier for other countries to accept Japan’s commitment to a better future for all, and to strengthen their own friendships with Japan,” he said in a statement.
There was considerable interest in Mr Abe’s speech marking 70 years since Japan’s surrender which ended WWII because of his nationalist government’s move away from the country’s pacifist constitution.
That will allow Japan’s military to play a greater role in global security. It also opens the way for exports of defence equipment, possibly submarines to Australia.
In his speech, Mr Abe expressed deep remorse over World War II.
He said previous national apologies are unshakeable but future generations should not have to keep saying sorry.
“Japan has repeatedly expressed feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war … we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war,” he said in Tokyo on Friday.
China, which suffered most from Japanese aggression during WWII, said Mr Abe missed a chance to offer a sincere apology.
Mr Abbott said Prime Minister Abe recognised the suffering of Australia and other countries.
“Australia has not forgotten this sacrifice and suffering. Those horrors teach us that the countries of our region all advance together or none of us will advance at all,” he said.
“Australia and Japan have developed a strong and flourishing friendship because our people and leaders have refused to let the shadows of the past dictate the future.”