WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement regarding Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s address to a joint meeting of Congress.
“Prime Minister Abe delivered a moving and well-received speech at the joint meeting, discussing issues from trade to security, and the evolution of the U.S.-Japan relationship from the end of WWII to today. On matters of history, I felt that his comments about U.S. lives lost were genuine and tastefully forward-looking. Regarding Japan’s actions against its Asian neighbors during the War, the Prime Minister confirmed that he upholds the views of his predecessors, but stopped short of apologizing directly for the treatment of comfort women, even as a former Korean comfort woman was among the guests in the gallery during the speech. There is no question that the Prime Minister could have been more direct in addressing Imperial Japan’s wartime legacy in this regard.
“I am a strong supporter of the U.S.-Japan alliance and believe that we have a bright future working together. However, I hope that the Prime Minister will take future opportunities to address history issues directly. I believe that Japan should proactively foster a collaborative and productive relationship with its neighbors by addressing unresolved issues. Japan will then be able to assume the sort of robust security role in Asia that the region needs, that the U.S.-Japan Alliance seeks to build, and that our allies and partners in the region will welcome.”