Japan's Leader Says He Will Express Remorse for World War II

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, is welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to their talks at Abe's official residence in Tokyo Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that his government would express remorse for World War II on the 70th anniversary of its end in August.

Abe is known for his nationalist views, and many analysts have speculated that he may downplay Japan's responsibility for the war. At a year-opening news conference Monday, he sought to reassure the world that he wouldn't veer from past official statements on Japan's wartime responsibility.

"The Abe Cabinet will uphold the general stance on history of successive prime ministers, including the Murayama statement," he said, referring to the 1995 apology made by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the 50th anniversary of the war's end.

He said the government would draft a new statement "that includes Japan's remorse for the war," though he stopped short of saying it would apologize.

What Abe will say is being closely watched not only in Japan but also in neighboring China and South Korea, both victims of Japanese aggression in World War II. They would be angered by any backtracking by Japan.

The prospect also worries the United States, which fears it would add to tensions in the region.

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