China warns Japan against shirking responsibility for World War II
TOKYO, July 23
A Chinese envoy on Thursday warned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to shirk responsibility for Japan’s wartime aggression in his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the hostilities.
Cheng Yonghua, China’s ambassador to Japan, told a news conference that Beijing is closely watching if Abe’s statement would stick to Tokyo’s past expressions of remorse and would show “sincerity” to the victims of Japanese wartime brutality. He said it will be a sign of Japan’s future direction and relations with Asian neighbours.
Abe is expected to make a statement before the August 15 anniversary.
Relations between Japan and China have been strained over historical and territorial disputes, though less so since Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last November.
“We will be watching how Japan sums up its past and shows sincerity to the victimised countries, especially the people who suffered from Japan’s wartime actions,” Cheng said. “Any deliberate attempt to blur or shirk Japan’s responsibility would be tantamount to opening up the victims’ wounds and rubbing salt on them.”
Cheng also said China is concerned about Abe’s recent push to enact legislation that would expand the role of Japan’s military, and alleged that Tokyo is emphasising Beijing’s military activity and portraying China as a potential enemy.
In a landmark 1995 statement by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the 50th anniversary, Japan offered its clearest and most extensive apology to the victims of its wartime aggression and colonial rule.
Abe has said there is no clear definition of aggression and that he was not necessarily standing by the 1995 statement, although he later promised to keep the statement following protests from China and South Korea.
Still, Abe is seen as reluctant to repeat the apology and wants to stress Japan’s postwar achievements. For his two anniversary speeches since taking office in December 2012, Abe omitted war apologies and merely said Japan faces its past and keeps its peace pledges.
In February, Abe appointed experts to review a study of Japan’s wartime history, its economic progress and future contributions before he makes his statement. The report is expected early next month.
The panel’s co-chairman, Shinichi Kitaoka, diplomatic and political history expert and president of International
University of Japan, told reporters after the panel’s final meeting on Monday that the report will look forward but reflect on history.