Amid 76th anniversary of World War II’s end, Beijing issues statement against Japanese officials’ visit to Yasukuni Shrine.
ANKARA (AA) – China on Monday criticized Japan over its “history of aggression” after Japanese officials visited a shrine that commemorates, among others, convicted war criminals.
“The Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 World War II Class-A war criminals with heinous crimes are honored, is a spiritual tool and symbol of the Japanese militarism’s war of aggression,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
On Sunday, Japan and its neighboring countries, including China, marked the 76th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Hua’s statement came after at least three ministers of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors convicted war criminals, along with millions of war dead, on Sunday.
Suga avoided a personal visit but sent offerings “out of his own pocket under the title of leader of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, having laid flowers at the nearby Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery before giving a speech at a memorial ceremony,” Kyodo News reported.
“Today marks the 76th anniversary of Japan’s defeat and unconditional surrender. Seventy-six years ago, the Chinese people, together with the people of the rest of the world, defeated the Japanese militarist aggressors and fascism and won the great victory of justice over evil, light over darkness and progress over reaction. This historic moment deserves to be remembered forever by the international community,” Hua said in a statement on Sunday night.
The Yasukuni Shrine has been a source of tension between Japan and its neighbors, particularly South Korea and China.
“What some Japanese political figures have done on the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine affronts historical justice and seriously hurts the feelings of people in the victimized Asian countries, including China.
“It again reflects Japan’s wrong attitude towards its own history of aggression,” Hua said, adding that Beijing had lodged protest with Japan over the issue “to register strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.”
“We urge the Japanese side to earnestly honor its statement and commitment of facing up to and reflecting on its history of aggression, tread carefully on historical issues such as the Yasukuni Shrine, make a clean break with militarism, and win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community through concrete actions,” she added.
Visits by Japanese officials to Yasukuni have long drawn criticism as they are viewed as a sign of Japan failing to atone for its past “imperialist aggression.”
Conservative politicians in the country have been accused of repeatedly downgrading previous statements of apology.