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  • Nov 19, 2014
  • Updated: 6:02am
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DIPLOMACY

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
 

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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

ngsw
China is a VICTIM of WW II and she has learned a great lesson: be strong and protect yourself. If Japan did not attack Pearl Harbour and get US engaged, you think US would fight against Japan to free China? If US cannot contain the present-day Japan, you think Japan would not snatch some lands from China again? Abe still see those who invaded China as national heroes and this tells a lot.
bajie.zhu.908

The Syria issue is poignant - China is helping out with removing chemical weapons.
Japan is a signatory to the CWC, and has, through bilateral agreement with China, promised to remove, remediate, and compensate for the chemical weapons (over 1,000,000 pcs.) buried all over China upon the Japanese army's retreat from China at the end of WW II.The work was promised to be completed by 2009. This is 2013, not a single piece of the chemical warheads found so far had been disposed of by Japan. The closest it got was a "dog ate my homework" excuse that the contractor that was supposed to build the disposal plant absconded with the money, and that was that.
Ambassador Liu should raise the issue at the UN, and demand to know why it is OK for Japan to ignore treaties it signed.
justice_first
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.
ngsw
No. China have learned enough from WW II and is well determined that her land would not be trampled and her countrymen would not be massacred again.
Kailim
There was a report from Reuters couple days ago that the German prosecutors have charged a former Nazi soldier of murder in a French village. The indicted crime occurred nearly 70 years ago when the soldier was 19 and he is 88 now.
The convicted war criminals of Japan have been worshiped as national heroes by the Japanese Prime Minister. Whereas the former German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt at the monument of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and said afterwards “Under the weight of recent history, I did what people do when words failed them. In this way I commemorated millions of murdered people.”
Good and bad, beautiful and ugly are all results of comparisons.
hongkiejj@malaysiaboleh
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
kieran.tsao
All I know is, China has never invaded Japan and tortured, mutilated, raped and massacred hundreds of thousands of men and women, as the Japanese did in Nanjing.
J R
goncalo
You are right about Japan be recalcitrant but not about China which was a victim of Japanese aggression. Why compare oranges to apples. However bad China is it is definitely not worse than Japan. The Japanese fascists are devils and evn the lesson of the two atomic bombs didn't educate them enough. But then nobody can educate devils except to extinguish them.
ejmciii
Yes, now the Chinese Communist Party kills Chinese people.
J R
ejmciii
Unfortunately the Japanese didn't massacre your family. Just released from Guantanamo? Or just a **** Japanese comfort-woman offspring? In any case, go to China and repeat what you say. I'm sure the Chinese Communists will treat you very well!

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