Japanese PM hurts Chinese Sentiments
By S. M. Hali
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in total disregard of international sentiments, blatantly paid homage to the Yasukuni Shrine last week where Class-A war criminals of World War II are honored. Reacting to this lack of sensitivity on the part of the Japanese Prime Minister, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi stated that this act brazenly affronted people of all countries that once suffered from Japanese militarist aggression and colonial rule. It is a flagrant provocation to the peace-loving people of the entire world, a gross trampling upon historical justice and human conscience, and an outrageous challenge to the outcomes of the world’s victory in the war against fascism and the post-war international order established on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations. The perverse act by Abe has, as it should, aroused firm opposition and strong condemnation of the Chinese government and people and the international community.
Echoing the sentiments of all nations that have suffered the ignominy of Japanese occupation and the brutality of the Japanese invaders, Yang Jiechi pointed out that the issue of Yasukuni Shrine, in essence, boils down to whether or not the Japanese government is able to correctly look at and profoundly repent its past of militarist aggression and colonial rule. Abe is the Prime Minister of Japan. His visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is by no means a domestic affair of Japan, still less an act by an individual. Instead, it is a major issue of right and wrong that concerns aggression versus anti-aggression, justice versus evil, and light versus darkness. It is a fundamental issue of direction about whether Japan’s leader will adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and stay with the path of peaceful development. And it is a matter of major principle that bears on the political foundation of Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors and the international community.
What Abe has done is pushing Japan toward a dangerous road that undermines the fundamental interests of people of all countries and of Japan. It is essential to note that Yang Jiechi highlighted the fact that the Chinese people cannot be insulted, nor can people of Asia and throughout the world be humiliated. He stressed that Abe must own up to the wrongdoing, correct the mistake and take concrete measures to remove its egregious impacts. He urged Abe to give up any illusion and mend his way; otherwise he will further discredit himself before Japan’s Asian neighbors and the international community and end up bringing shame to Japan in the annals of history.
Yasukuni is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It was founded by Emperor Meiji to commemorate individuals who had died in service of the Empire of Japan during the Meiji Restoration. The shrine’s purpose has been expanded over the years; the deities enshrined at the Honden shrine within Yasukuni currently include more than 2,466,000 individuals who died in conflicts spanning from the Boshin War of 1867 to the end of World War II.
Controversies and political tension with China and South Korea arose due to the enshrinement at Yasukuni of many war criminals from World War II, including 14 Class A war criminals who committed heinous crimes to the victimized Asian peoples remain honored there and the historical revisionism in its accounts of Japan’s actions in the War, and intensified following visits by senior government officials such as various prime ministers.
The war of aggression against China waged by militarist Japan inflicted untold calamities on the Chinese people, and the invading Japanese army committed the Nanjing Massacre and many other heinous atrocities. China suffered as many as 35 million casualties and 600 billion US dollars in direct and indirect losses. Abe has refused to assume historical responsibilities or own up to Japan’s past crimes. Instead, he has gone to so far as to worship Class-A war criminals.
The Japanese leader’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is, in nature, an attempt to whitewash the history of aggression and colonialism by militarist Japan, overturn the just trial of Japanese militarism by the international community and challenge the outcome of WWII and the post-war international order.
The behavior of Japanese leader sparked international condemnation and disappointment. The Russian government stated Russia’s position is fully consistent with China regarding the Yasukuni Shrine issue, expressing dissatisfaction with the attitude of the Japanese government towards the results of World War II. The United States expressed its disappointment over Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, stressing that would exacerbate tensions with its neighbors. South Korea, Singapore and other Asian countries have also expressed strong condemnation and regret.
China-Japan relations have been beset by continuous, serious difficulties since the Japanese side created the farce of “purchasing” the Diaoyu Islands last year. More recently, Japan has deliberately stirred up “China threat” hysteria in military and security fields to undermine China’s security interests. Instead of reining in his acts, the Japanese leader has gone out of his way to once again create a serious incident on the issue of history, thus erecting a new, major political barrier to the improvement and development of bilateral ties. The Japanese side must bear the responsibility for all the consequences arising there from.
Strangely, for the last seven years no Japanese Prime Minister had visited the shrine but Abe chose to do so when China and Japan are locked in verbal debates over the controversy created by Japan over the Diaoyo islands.
In all fairness, the Japanese Prime Minister should have avoided raking up old wounds at these testing times and be more mindful of the feelings of its neighbors rather than score brownie points domestically.