Tokyo chief ’s visit to shrine ‘ironic’

Ja­pan’s top de­fense of­fi­cial paid trib­ute to WWII dead at me­mo­rial on re­turn from Pearl Har­bor

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI XIAOKUN and ZHANG ZHIHAO Con­tact the writ­ers at lix­i­aokun@chi­

Bei­jing has de­nounced as “greatly ironic” the Ja­panese de­fense chief ’s visit to the Ya­sukuni Shrine, which came shortly af­ter she re­turned from ac­com­pa­ny­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe on his visit to Pearl Har­bor.

“This not only re­flects some Ja­panese peo­ple’s ob­sti­nately wrong view of his­tory, it is also greatly ironic given the Pearl Har­bor rec­on­cil­i­a­tion trip,” For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said on Thurs­day at a reg­u­lar news con­fer­ence.

Hua was asked about Ja­panese De­fense Min­is­ter To­momi Inada’s visit on Thurs­day to the shrine, which honors Ja­pan’s 2.5 mil­lion dead dur­ing World War II as well as 14 Class-A war crim­i­nals con­victed of plot­ting and car­ry­ing out the war. She said that Bei­jing would lodge a protest with Tokyo.

The visit came right af­ter Inada re­turned from the trip with Abe to Hawaii. The two joined US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Tues­day for the first visit by a Ja­panese leader and a US pres­i­dent to Hawaii’s Pearl Har­bor, to com­mem­o­rate the vic­tims of the Ja­panese at­tack in 1941.

The Chi­nese De­fense Min­istry also voiced “strong dis­sat­is­fac­tion and op­po­si­tion” to the shrine visit on Thurs­day.

“I also want to add that Prime Min­is­ter Abe’s speech in Hawaii bore no sense of guilt but pub­licly called Ja­panese mil­i­tary of­fi­cers ‘brave’, ” spokesman Yang Yu­jun said at the min­istry’s reg­u­lar news brief­ing.

Dur­ing the Pearl Har­bor visit, Abe did not apol­o­gize for wartime acts, but just con­ceded that Ja­pan “must never re­peat the hor­rors of war again”. Yang said, “Peace-lov­ing peo­ple around the world should be very alert for such re­marks and ac­tions.”

South Korea’s for­eign and de­fense min­istries also de­plored Inada’s visit, sum- mon­ing Tokyo’s diplo­mats in Seoul on Thurs­day.

Zhou Yong­sheng, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity, said Inada’s visit to the shrine right af­ter she re­turned to Ja­pan is “ap­par­ently a de­lib­er­ate plan” to clar­ify the Ja­panese govern­ment’s real at­ti­tude to­ward his­tory.

“Abe ap­par­ently was putting on a show in Pearl Har­bor for prac­ti­cal rea­sons and hid­ing Ja­pan’s own strate­gic pur­poses,” he said, adding it is an em­bar­rass­ment for Obama.

Wang Dong, a re­searcher of North­east Asian stud­ies at Pek­ing Univer­sity, said that although Inada’s visit came one day af­ter that of Ja­pan’s dis­as­ter re­con­struc­tion min­is­ter, it can be con­sid­ered more se­ri­ous given her po­si­tion.

“Af­ter the Pearl Har­bor tour, Abe is us­ing the de­fense chief ’s shrine visit to re­spond to right-wing forces,” he said. “The US has stepped back again and again on the is­sue of Ja­pan’s his­tory, eye­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ja­pan to coun­ter­bal­ance China. Such an at­ti­tude is sow­ing un­cer­tainty in East Asia.”

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