Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe first world war comments were overstated, says Tokyo

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 4:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 3:32am

The Japanese government has chided a private interpretation firm over an employee's translation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's remarks comparing Sino-Japanese relations with those in pre-first world war Europe.

The foreign ministry said Abe's comments during a meeting with international press at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month were embellished, the Asahi Shimbun and the Sankei Shimbun reported at the weekend.

The Asahi said the ministry had cautioned the firm and the translator.

A foreign ministry official said that the ministry had given the firm a performance review, but declined to give details.

Abe was quoted as drawing a parallel between current Japan-China relations and those of Britain and Germany on the eve of the first world war, saying they were in a "similar situation".

A transcript of the Japanese remarks does not contain this phrase.

According to an AFP translation of the Japanese remarks, as provided by the chief cabinet secretary, Abe was asked a question about the possibility of conflict between Japan and China.

He replied: "This year marks the 100th year since World War I. At the time, Britain and Germany had a strong economic relationship, but they went to war. I mention this historical background by way of additional comment.

"If something like you suggest were to happen, it would cause serious losses to both Japan and China, but also cause significant damage to the world. We must ensure this will not happen."

The reported remarks were criticised as "inflammatory" by commentators and seized on by China as "anachronistic".