• Wed
  • Oct 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:06am

China-Japan disputes spill into BBC studio with ambassadors separated

Interviews with ambassadors to Britain held separately to avoid risk of heated exchanges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 11:08pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 January, 2014, 8:48am


  • Yes: 26%
  • No: 74%
11 Jan 2014
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 593

Growing tensions between Japan and China spilled over into a BBC news studio when the countries' British ambassadors were interviewed on live TV.

The envoys were kept apart because producers and embassy staff feared a heated exchange between the diplomats over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's December 26 visit to the Yasukuni shrine, which honours "Class A" war criminals among others, and over disputed islands. Both have recently appeared in British newspapers likening each other's government to Lord Voldemort, the villain in the Harry Potter stories.

After interviewing Japan's Keiichi Hayashi during Wednesday's edition of the Newsnight programme, presenter Jeremy Paxman went to another studio set to conduct his interview with China's Liu Xiaoming on the same topic. This was a marked departure from the regular structure of the nightly programme, which interviews guests together, face-to-face.

Watch: BBC's Newsnight programme on island dispute

"It is fair to say this was an unusual way for the programme to conduct an interview," a BBC spokesman told the South China Morning Post.

"The ambassadors agreed to appear only separately, which Jeremy Paxman made clear at the start of the interviews."

Paxman quizzed Hayashi about the disputed islands - known as the Diaoyus in China and the Senkakus in Japan - and about Tokyo's move to seek a "military identity" via constitutional reform.

The Japanese ambassador accused China of aggression and "breaking the international order" by pushing its claims to the islands.

"China is changing the status quo through provocation and coercion," Hayashi said.

Asked how far Japan was prepared to go to defend its sovereignty, Hayashi replied: "You should direct that question to China."

With an exaggerated smirk, Paxman stood up and walked across the studio to interview Liu, who said Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine had upset the Chinese people, and claimed Tokyo refused to acknowledge there was a dispute over the sovereignty of the tiny specks of land in the ocean.

Quoting Britain's wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, Liu said: "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."


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This article is now closed to comments

Yesterday, I ran into two Japanese adults/students on language exchange program in ChungKing, and they seemed humble and apologetic to what their "last generation" had done.
Some activists in domestic Japan hope to repeat history, which should be discouraged and corrected--a consensus in global community.
what the Chinese are concerned, or worry, is the collective Japan. Individual Japanese is too reserved, too "polite" to express his true feelings. The Chinese are more like American, very direct, very blunt in expressing feelings, or doubt. The Japanese, by their unique culture, are less direct, more subtle in their feelings or opinions. Sometimes you may even fail to catch their real meaning. They might appear to agree with you, but in fact not so. However when they get together as a group, they will be totally different people. Actually their consensus culture dictates their behavior.
There are just too many cases in the past showing this trait.
Once they reach a consensus to do a certain thing, right or wrong, they become very stubborn, very united, very committed, in their goals. The fear is that Abe is now leading Japan in a wrong direction, with such same Japanese trait at work. The consequences could be disastrous for Japan, and for the world.
So you meet Japanese people in China and this is what you talked about? I hope you also forgave them for carrying the DNA of a murderous and brutal group of people.
Matthew Chen
Actually Emperor Hirohito had already admitted to his Korean roots.
This issue of the shrine first surfaced when Emperor Hirohito refused to visit the shrine from 1978 until his death in 1989.
According to a memorandum released in 2006 kept by Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward, Tomohiko Tomita, Hirohito stated that the reason he stopped visiting the shrine was because of the decision to enshrine "convicted" Class-A war criminals, such as Yosuke Matsuoka and Toshio Shiratori.
Since his 1978 decision, no Japanese emperor has visited the Yasukuni Shrine.
Despite China establishing peace and friendship with Japan from 1972, and Deng Xiaoping's visit to Japan in 1978, the issue remained in the Chinese cross hair. China "began" seriously "objecting" to the shrine visits by top Japanese officials from the 1980's, due to the fact that China decided it could no longer tolerate, despite the peace, this kind of blatant disregard to Chinese feelings and war crime.
Takeshi  Togo
Bewteen 1978 and 1985, 3 Japanese Prime Ministers paid a total of 21 visits to Yasukuni Shrine and China did not raise any objection at all. During those seven years, three Japanese Prime Ministers visited China and were all welcomed. China did not say anyting about Yasukuni visit. Also during those years, Chinese leaders like Deng Xiao Ping, Hua Guofeng, Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang visited Japan and none of them said anything about Yasukuni. China has not given any explanation as to why it started to complain about Yasukuni in 1985.
When he was young studying in Japan, Zhou En-lai visited Yasukuni Shrine on 30th April 1918 and he wrote in his diary on the following day that he was very much impressed with the on-going spring festival(看了深受感動).
togo san
in 1978, your emperor decided to stop going after those 14 Class A war criminals were secretly enshrined and his successor has never visited since 1978. Why is dat ? they knew the inclusion of those war criminals will create a huge diplomatic outcry.
in 1985, china and korea only started protesting when news broke out during nakasone visit and realizing his mistake, he vowed never to visit ys and that is the only time china and korea n maybe the rest of other countries knew.
prior to dat, nobody knows and nobody really gives a beep about ys. It is your internal affairs but the 14 guys there are the mastermind and the executioners.
why after so many years we are still arguing and lingering over this ys is really sad. Ww2 ended 70 years ago and we should have moved on and let bygones be bygones.
yet and despite after we have move on, the visit@ys is still ongoing knowing perfectly well how we feel n continuity ignorance of our feelings is insulting.
your great grandfathers has done harms dat no words can be describe in wordings and we dont blame your generation now for the past but the continue visit @ys is a spit on our face and a reminder of your govt failure to acknowledge. unremorseful and disrespectful to the victims.
to dig up the past and to see your govt express their respect to those very same person dat did what they did then is just mind boggling. I believe ys is a nice and spiritual place but it’s the wrong place to respect those 14 criminals.period
I'm surprised that we are not seeing more U.S. allies turning to China. I think in fact we are seeing this and it is evident in the military cooperatives between the U.S. "allies" and China. Largely the reasoning is because it's well know that these countries fear that the U.S. is facing a financial crisis, and they are, and that in the not so distant future China will be unchallenged in the region. There is also a growing fear that war is coming and these countries friendly to the U.S. will be targeted. War is coming and it really has nothing to do with those Islands or the shrines, other than Japan leaders visiting the shrines reflects that they still embrace the U.S. ideology. The greater imperial conflict here is the western group verses the Chinese and Persia.
This has nothing to do with Japan and everything to do with the western colonial efforts of the last 200 years. This is not a conflict with Japan, but a conflict with an ideology. Japan is reflecting, and has been reflecting the western desire to dominate the region. The real focus should be the dominating stance that the U.S. has taken in establishing itself in the region to directly counter China. Japan has become the focal point mainly in that it has reflected the western intentions since the first war. The shrine and this Island are a proxy endeavor. China knows this. This is why the disputes encompass the entire Asia Pacific. North Korea reflects China's stance in this as well. The greater purpose of this China expansion is to counter the U.S. not Japan. All the news is focused primarily on the China Japan dispute, and this is to avoid the real situation being told to the american people. People in America are dumb, more concerned with inter-personal dramas and reality TV to understand that their military is massively building up in the region of Asia Pacific and that the U.S. and western groups have been engaged in proxy wars with China and it's allies over the last hundred years, largey in the past 4 years. ;) The reason the U.S. bombed Libya was to run China out. Most people think that there was some uprising in Libya, but no, China was vastly investing and had some 30 thousand worker in that country building infrastructures for resources.
The U.S. is Using Japan. This war is coming soon. Right now the entire global economy is propped up by subsidy and stimulus. This will end soon and when it does a massive war will break. Buildup toward war has been the only resolve to the problems of the world. Soon!




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