China and South Korea yesterday urged Japan to stick to history and reflect on its wartime aggression after Tokyo confirmed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a note earlier this year to a ceremony honouring more than 1,000 second world war-era war criminals, praising their contributions.
Abe sent the message in April to a ceremony at the Koyasan Buddhist temple in central Japan in his capacity as head of the ruling party, not as prime minister, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said Japan should reflect on its wartime aggression and make a "clean break with militarism" to rebuild relations with Asian neighbours.
"We urge Japan to adhere to its commitment to reflect on the invasion and take solid action to win the trust of Asian neighbours and the international community," spokesman Qin Gang said.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Abe's message raised questions about the sincerity of Tokyo's past apology over wartime aggression.