Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor has been portrayed as "the last stop in historical reconciliation between Japan and the United States."
Viewing the visit as a continuing step following Abe's speech at a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in April last year and U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Hiroshima in May this year, Abe mentioned in his speech at Pearl Harbor the "power of reconciliation," while maintaining a future-oriented outlook. And from the perspective of Japan-U.S. relations and the Japan-U.S. alliance, that is just how things are.
But this visit alone does not bring an end to the "postwar" period.
Last year, which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Abe gave an address to the U.S. Congress, and later released a statement commemorating the anniversary of the war's end. And this year, 75 years after the former Imperial Japanese Navy launched its attack on Pearl Harbor, Obama visited Hiroshima and Abe went to Pearl Harbor. The prime minister probably wants to bring the "postwar" period to a conclusion during the present generation. In his statement on the 70th anniversary of the war's end, Abe said, "We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize."
In Japan-Russia summit talks on Dec. 15 and 16, Abe told Russian President Vladimir Putin, "Seventy-one years after the end of the war, there is still no peace treaty between Japan and Russia. We have to put an end to this abnormal situation with our own hands, during our generation."
Having marked a chapter in reconciliation between Japan and the United States, what should Abe set about doing now? The year 2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and China, as well as the return of Okinawa to Japan.
However, reconciliation with China and South Korea has still not been achieved in the true sense of the word. And problems over the handling of postwar issues, such as the various matters surrounding Okinawa, remain in Japan.
It is by facing these "postwar" issues that remain in Asia that Japan will be able to form a "future-oriented" outlook for the first time.
Japan must not become a victim or an aggressor. It is my wish that next year will be one in which this thought is engraved on the hearts of people across Japan. (By Shozo Suetsugu, Managing Editor, Political News Department)