TOKYO (AFP) - Japan must repeatedly say sorry to China, Korea and the other countries it invaded in the 20th century until its former victims have heard the apology enough, novelist Haruki Murakami has said.
"The issue of historical understanding carries great significance, and I believe it is important that Japan makes straightforward apologies," he told Kyodo News in an interview in Tokyo earlier this month.
"I think that is all Japan can do - apologise until the countries say: 'We don't necessarily get over it completely, but you have apologised enough. Alright, let's leave it now.'"
Murakami, one of Japan's best known writers who has repeatedly been tipped as a future Nobel Literature laureate, has often chided his country for shirking responsibility for its World War II aggression.
His remarks come as the world watches what Japan's conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will say in a statement expected to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII this summer.
Observers are focusing on whether Abe will make direct reference to Japan's "colonial rule and aggression" and express an "apology", as previous premiers did on the 50th and 60th anniversaries.
Abe, a strident nationalist, wants Japan to have what he says is a less masochistic view of its history, but has caused waves by quibbling over the definition of "invade" and has provoked ire by downplaying wartime sex slavery.
While many of its former foes have moved past the enmity of last century, Japan is regularly lambasted by Beijing and Seoul for a perceived failure to atone for the past, and for being unwilling to "face history squarely".
Without referring directly to Abe or his upcoming statement, Murakami said: "Apologising is nothing to feel embarrassed about."