A former senior U.S. government official criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders Wednesday for their views on history with neighboring countries before and during World War II.
Jeffrey Bader, former senior adviser for Asian affairs of the National Security Council, also warned the U.S. government could be more "vocal" if Japan reviewed past statements in which the government formally apologized for wartime aggressions in other Asian countries.
"The handling of historical issues in the last couple of months by Japanese leaders has not been adroit, to put it mildly," Bader told a symposium in Washington. He assumed the post in the first term of President Barack Obama.
Bader also mentioned Abe's controversial remark earlier this year that the word "invasion" has no established definition in the context of Japan's wartime rule over neighboring countries.
He also refereed to visits by some members of Abe's Cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, and more than 160 other parliamentarians, to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which worships Class-A Japanese war criminals along with war dead.
The other Asian countries such as China and South Korea have reacted sharply to the remarks and events.
"This is the worst possible environment for a major debate" on Japan's future security, Bader said.
Bader also blasted Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who came under fire after he said Japan's wartime system of sexual servitude was necessary. Bader branded the remark "crazy." Hashimoto also co-heads a major opposition party in parliament.
If Japan adheres to the past apology statements by the prime minister and the chief Cabinet secretary on the military aggression and the sex slavery, it would be fine, Bader said. "But if we see more of this...I think we're going to have to become more vocal.