TOKYO — Fifty-two years and 50 weeks after the event, Japan's government finally apologized Monday for failing to break off diplomatic negotiations before launching the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that pulled the United States into World War II.
"There can be no excuse," the Foreign Ministry said, for Japan's delay in delivering a message to Washington on Dec. 7, 1941, that it would negotiate no longer. The official apology was prompted by the routine declassification of a new batch of documents relating to that fateful day.
But Monday's apology for Japanese diplomats' "deeply regrettable" conduct was not addressed to the United States, the victim of the attack. Rather, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Terusuke Terada, "the statement was directed to the people of Japan."
Why does the government feel a need to apologize to its own people for deceiving another nation half a century ago?