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Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the "Peace, Friendship, and Exchange Initiative"

31 August 1994

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. With the anniversary approaching, I visited the Republic of Korea in July this year, and I have just completed a tour of Southeast Asian countries. Taking this opportunity, I would like to say a few words of explanation on the basic thinking behind Japanese external policy to make the historic anniversary truly significant.

1. Japan's actions in a certain period of the past not only claimed numerous victims here in Japan but also left the peoples of neighboring Asia and elsewhere with scars that are painful even today. I am thus taking this opportunity to state my belief, based on my profound remorse for these acts of aggression, colonial rule, and the like caused such unbearable suffering and sorrow for so many people, that Japan's future path should be one of making every effort to build world peace in line with my no-war commitment.

It is imperative for us Japanese to look squarely to our history with the peoples of neighboring Asia and elsewhere. Only with solid basis of mutual understanding and confidence that can be build through overcoming the pain on both sides, can we and the peoples of neighboring countries together clear up the future of Asia-Pacific.

With next year's historic 50th anniversary of the war's end, I believe it is necessary that such views are solidified and that we redouble our efforts for peace.

2. In keeping with this view, I would like to announce the "Peace, Friendship, and Exchange Initiative" to start in the 50th anniversary, 1995. I see this as a two-part Initiative.

One part consists of support for historical research, including the collection and cataloging of historical documents and support for researchers, to enable everyone to face squarely to the facts of history.

The other part consists of exchange programs to promote dialogue and mutual understanding in all walks of life through intellectual exchange, youth exchange and so on.

I would also like to include such other programs as deemed appropriate in light of the Initiative's objectives.

In addition, I would like to consider the establishment of an Asian Historical Document Center, which has been advocated, within this Initiative.

 While this Initiative will focus primarily upon the neighboring Asian countries and areas where Japan's past actions have left deep scars even today, I also want to include other regions as appropriate in light of the Initiative's objectives.

This Initiative calls for the disbursement of about ¥100 billion over the next ten years, with the details now being worked out within the government for inclusion in the next year's budget.

3. On the issue of wartime "comfort women," which seriously stained the honor and dignity of many women, I would like to take this opportunity once again to express my profound and sincere remorse and apologies.

With regard to this issue as well, I believe that one way of demonstrating such feelings of apologies and remorse is to work to further promote mutual understanding with the countries and areas concerned as well as to face squarely to the past and ensure that it is rightly conveyed to future generations. This initiative, in this sense, has been drawn up consistent with such belief.

Along with the Initiative by the government, I would like to find out, together with Japanese people, an appropriate way which enables a wide participation of people so that we can share such feelings.

4. The government is keenly aware of the importance of international cooperation in such fields as the advancement of women and the enhancement of women's welfare.

I have been strongly concerned with the issues of women's human rights and welfare. Knowing that the Fourth World Conference on Women is scheduled to be held in Beijing next year to formulate new guidelines for the advancement of women toward the 21st century, the government intends to place even greater emphasis on economic cooperation in such fields as the advancement of women and the enhancement of women's welfare, including, for example, vocational training centers for women, particularly in relation to the neighboring Asian countries and areas.

5. With this "Peace, Friendship, and Exchange Initiative" as the basic framework, the government also intends to make good-faith efforts in the following areas.
(1) One is the issue on permanent repatriation of ethnic Koreans residing in Sakhalin. This issue cries out for our attention particularly from a humanitarian perspective, and the government intends to decide upon the support policies as soon as possible, in full consultation with the governments of Republic of Korea and Russian Federation, and to implement them as they are firmed up.

(2) The other is the issue of "established financial obligations" to the people concerned in Taiwan, including the non-payment of wages and the status of military postal savings accounts, which have long defied solution. Considering the facts including that the creditors are increasingly aging year by year, the government intends to work to meet these established obligations as soon as possible.

6. While almost half a century has passed since the end of the war, a vast majority of people today have not experienced the war. In order to make sure that the horrors of war be never again repeated, we should not forget about the war. It is all the more essential in this time of peace and abundance that we reflect on the errors in our history, convey to future generations the horrors of war and the many lives that were lost, and work continuously for lasting peace. I believe that this is the responsibility which the political leadership and the Administration of Japan should bear together with each and every Japanese.


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