Japan's Abe faces wartime history at Anne Frank house

Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:54pm EDT
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By Geert De Clercq

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - At a visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday that nations must face the facts of history, and his spokesman said there was no contradiction with his recent controversial visit to the Yasukuni war shrine at home.

The house, where the German-born Jewish girl kept a diary of her life in hiding before she was discovered and died in a Nazi concentration camp, is now one of the best-known memorials to the victims of the Holocaust, drawing more than a million visitors each year.

"The 20th century was characterized by war and by the violation of basic human rights. I want to ensure the same things do not happen in the 21st century, and I share responsibility to realize this goal," said Abe, who is in the Netherlands for a G7 summit and a nuclear security meeting.

In December, Abe angered China and South Korea by visiting Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which they see as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression as it honors convicted war criminals as well as others who died in battle.

"We would like to face the historical facts in a humble manner and to pass on the lessons of history to the next generation," Abe said, in front a large picture of Anne Frank.

He added that by doing so, he wanted to "realize peace in the entire international community".

Abe took no questions and left after a brief tour of the hidden annexe where Frank and her family hid from the Nazis from 1942 to 1944.

Asked whether there was a difference between visiting a memorial to Japanese soldiers at home and a memorial to war victims abroad, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "There is no contradiction."   Continued...

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares