Then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama spoke on the 50th anniversary. It was the first official statement referring to Japan's wartime aggression.
"During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries particularly to those of Asian nations."
Tomiichi Murayama / Japanese Prime Minister (1995)
Murayama offered what he called "deep remorse" and a "heartfelt apology."
10 years later, Junichiro Koizumi issued a similar message when he was prime minister. He repeated the phrase that Japan caused damage to people through its "colonial rule" and "aggression". And once again, he expressed feelings of "deep remorse" and a "heartfelt apology".
Early this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would draft a new statement to coincide with the 70th anniversary.
"As we head towards the 80th, 90th and 100th anniversaries to come, Japan must make still greater contributions towards world peace and stability under the flag of Proactive Contribution to Peace. In this milestone anniversary year, I intend to send out to the world the message of our clear resolve."
Shinzo Abe / Japanese Prime Minister
Leaders of China and South Korea repeatedly urged Abe to follow the path of his predecessors, apparently insisting he use key phrases of Murayama and Koizumi.