Late on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan had missed a chance to make a “sincere apology” for its actions, without mentioning Abe by name.
China and South Korea did not appear to be appeased by the comments, with South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reporting that Mr Abe “did not offer his own apology clearly”.
Tomomi Inada, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party; Haruko Arimura, minister in charge of female empowerment and gender equality; and internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi paid a visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.
But Abe also said future generations in Japan “who have nothing to do with that war” should not be forced to apologize.
Abe’s conservative supporters are keen for Japan to put an end to what they see as a humiliating cycle of apologies.
She also took a swipe at Mr Abe’s rightist tendencies, calling on Japan to “demonstrate with consistent and honest actions its pledge to inherit the recognition of history by the previous cabinets”.
Even as she was speaking, a pair of Japanese cabinet ministers visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which neighbouring countries see as an ugly symbol of Tokyo’s militarist past.
South Koreans plan to hold anti-Japan protests in Seoul on Saturday, when the country is also celebrating the end of the war as marking freedom from Japanese oppression.
Abe received mixed reviews overseas of his speech on Friday.
“We have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbors: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others”, he said. Afterwards former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama complained that Abe’s statement did not clearly reflect or embrace the spirit of his historic 1995 statement that serves as the gold standard of Japanese mea culpa.
“(Those declarations) were foundations that have supported the South Korea-Japan relations”, she said.
South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye spoke at a ceremony on Saturday to mark the country’s liberation.
Valte said that Japan has acted with compassion and in accordance with global law and has actively and more positively engaged with the region and the world after the war.
In the past 70 years, Australia and Japan had created a special relationship based on friendship, trust and shared values, the prime minister said in Adelaide.
In Canberra, Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said this generation of Australians now leaving us, whose sacrifice we honour today, was the greatest generation this nation has produced.