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The U.S. Congressional Research Service has noted that comments and actions by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on historical issues "have raised concern that Tokyo could upset regional relations in ways that hurt U.S. interests."
In its May 1 report, the research arm of Congress said Abe is known as a "strong nationalist" and that his approach to issues relating to wartime sex slaves, history textbooks and visits to a war-linked shrine in Tokyo "will be closely monitored" not just by China and South Korea but also by the United States.
Japan's ties with China and South Korea, already chilled over territorial disputes, have further worsened as Abe has recently made comments that seem to gloss over Japanese aggression in other parts of Asia during World War II. One of his comment suggested that the word "aggression" is defined differently from country to country.
The report said that if Abe revises a 1993 government statement on the issue of the so-called "comfort women," it "would be sure to degrade Tokyo's relations with South Korea and other countries."
The 1993 statement acknowledged the Japanese military's responsibility for forced recruitment of Korean women into sexual servitude and apologized to these women.
Although before becoming prime minister, Abe had suggested revising the statement, his government said this week that it will not revise its stance on the "comfort women" issue.
The report also noted that visits to the Yasukuni Shrine last month by more than 170 Japanese lawmakers, including four Cabinet ministers, also drew protests from China and South Korea.
The shrine is seen by Japan's neighbors as glorifying Japanese militarism, in part because it enshrines people convicted as Class-A criminals by the Tokyo war crime tribunal, as well as millions of Japan's war dead.
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