In U.N. Speech, Japanese Leader Rejects Militarism : Nakasone Apologizes for WWII

From Times Wire Services

In a radical departure from the 40th-anniversary rhetoric at the United Nations, Japan’s prime minister on Wednesday offered delegates an apology for World War II, evoked apocalyptic visions and recited his own verse on the Milky Way.

Yasuhiro Nakasone, 67, a wartime naval officer, noted at the beginning of his commemorative address to the General Assembly that when the U.N. Charter was signed at San Francisco in June, 1945, Japan was “waging a desperate and lonely war against over 40 Allied countries.”

“Since the end of that war,” he told the 159-member world body, “Japan has profoundly regretted the ultranationalism and militarism it unleashed, and the untold suffering the war inflicted upon peoples around the world and, indeed, upon its own people.”

He added that “having suffered the scourge of war and the atomic bomb, the Japanese people will never again permit the revival of militarism on their soil.”


Nakasone’s apology was unusual in a hall where many other commemorative speakers have used the occasion to attack their country’s foes and to defend their own policies.

German Avoids Guilt

Speakers from Germany, Japan’s wartime ally, made passing references to World War II but avoided expressions of guilt. Gerald Goetting, deputy chairman of the East German Council of State, in a speech on Tuesday, identified his Communist government as an heir to the “anti-Hitler coalition . . . which liberated the peoples from the Nazi rule of force and terror.”

The two-week special commemorative session ends today with speeches by the leaders of the major victors of World War II--President Reagan, the prime ministers of Britain and China and the foreign ministers of France and the Soviet Union.


The U.N. Charter came into force on Oct. 24, 1945.

Nakasone warned in his speech against man-made “monsters” confronting the world’s flora and fauna.

“We believe that all living things--humans, animals, trees, grasses--are essentially brothers and sisters,” said the Japanese leader, who sometimes retreats to a small temple in Tokyo for Buddhist meditation.

“Our generation is recklessly destroying the natural environment which has evolved over the course of millions of years and is essential for our survival,” he said. “This folly can only be called suicidal.”


Recites Japanese Verse

He recited his own haiku to underscore the Japanese philosophical view that “man is born by the grace of the great universe”:

Afar and above the dark and endless sky,

the Milky Way runs


toward the place I come from.

A haiku is a verse form of three unrhymed lines, totaling 17 syllables in the Japanese original.

Nakasone spoke in Japanese and an official English text was provided by Japan.

Nakasone also warned against protectionism as a “narcotic” that will put world trade in a coma. He pledged to make his country’s market “one of the most open in the world.”