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  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 3:35pm

Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe is president of the Liberal Democratic Party and was elected prime minister of Japan in December 2012. He also served as prime minister in 2006 after being elected by a special session of Japan’s National Diet, but resigned after less than a year.

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Is he talking war or peace? Shinzo Abe comments on 'pre-war UK, Germany' irk Chinese netizens

Japanese Prime Minister compared tensions with Britain and Germany’s relationship prior to the first world war

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 5:53pm

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments during his trip to the World Economic Forum comparing Sino-Japanese tensions with Britain and Germany’s relationship prior to the first world war has sparked heated discussions within the Chinese online community.

In response to a question posed by the Financial Times in Davos on Wednesday night about whether a war between China and Japan was “conceivable”, Abe compared the tensions between the two countries with that of Britain and Germany prior to 1914, who despite having a strong trading relationship were not prevented from going to war.

Abe was quoted by the blog as observing that China and Japan were now in a “similar situation”.

Abe’s remarks on Britain and Germany echoed the oft-quoted Chinese description of Sino-Japanese relations as “politically cold and economically hot,” outlining the phenomenon that while the two countries maintain a thriving trade volume which reached US$312.5 billion in 2013, tensions between China and Japan are currently the greatest they have been in years.

A bitter row between the two nations over disputed islets in the East China Sea continues with frequent reports of confrontations between military ships and scrambled jets. The relationship has also been damaged by rows over historic issues during the second world war, and more recently the Japanese leader’s controversial visit in December to the Yasukuni Shrine, a shrine that honours Japan’s war dead, including indicted war criminals.

Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to deliver the keynote address at the forum, said: “I paid respect to those people who perished in the war for the nation…which I believed is something quite natural for a leader of any country in the world.”

He also called for military restraint in Asia. “We must ... restrain military expansion in Asia, which could otherwise go unchecked,” he said.

“Military budgets should be made completely transparent and there should be public disclosure in a form that can be verified," Abe added in remarks apparently alluding to China.

Abe’s comments drew a barrage of criticisms from online users in China.

“Is this a challenge from Japan to China?” one online user questioned on his microblog.

“Even if China really publicised its military budget, Japan wouldn’t believe it anyway,” another said.

Others viewed Abe’s remarks on his Yasukuni Shrine visit as an excuse for refusing to apologise for the Japanese invasion of China during the second world war.

One user said Abe should be allowed to visit the shrine as long as he “kneels in front of the memorial hall of the victims of the Nanjing Massacre in the second world war”, as former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt did during a 1970 visit to a monument in Warsaw, Poland to the victims of the Ghetto Uprising of 1943. 

“Abe’s remarks are a counterstrike towards Chinese diplomats’ worldwide condemnations of him,” Richard Hu, an associate professor of the University of Hong Kong who specialises in East Asian international relations, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post on Thursday.

China and Japan have been engaged in a war of words since Abe’s controversial visit to the war shine. Chinese diplomats overseas have taken to international media to denounce the move, writing newspaper editorials condemning the visit in nearly 40 countries.

“So I think this is his [Abe] essential agenda in going to Davos,” Hu said.


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This article is now closed to comments

A Matsui
Shinzo Abe comparing current Japan and China relations to that of Britain and Germany in 1914 shows what a person endowed with false Shinto beliefs and fascists views knows about history. First of all, Japan is no Britain circa 1914 when Britannia rules the waves. Japan is nothing more than a military defeated country with a diminishing impact on the world and a lacklustre economy and sordid image in the world brought about by decades of stagnation and now a revival of fascism albeit the discredited Shinto version. China on the other hand just wants her stolen territory the Diaoyu Islands back and doesn't have any pretentions to conquer territories and colonies like 1914 Germany. This is a dispute about stolen territory only. China couldn't give a damn about what Japan does to commit hara-kiri with her economy and relationships with the rest of Asia or the world. Shinzo Abe's diabolical analogy about 1914 Britain and Germany is just another example of a morally bankrupt Japanese fascist ideology made even more extreme with the discredited State Shintoism with was proven a false religion when the Japanese God Emperor was relegated into something a lot less. Japanese revisionist WWII history added to zero understanding of European history shows the Japanese fascists are desperate to win world public opinion but only proving themselves to be the monsters they really are. Shinzo Abe and the Japanese fascists are not only the enemy of peace but a treat to Japan's very existence.
How he can compare Japan with Germany and put both countries on the same level?
Germany has done her utmost to compensate, to apologize and to show remorse for their war atrocities and the holocaust even until today. Germany underwent a De-nazification through the decades and is teaching, informing and telling all their coming generations till today in school what Germany had done in the 2nd WW. German school kids regularly visit with their school classes the Concentration Camps - the places of horrors -, now memorials were the 3rd Reich murdered jews and others in masses. The German society will fight against all fascism and nationalism where it spreads and prevent organizations, which tries to bring Germany right back to nationalism from getting supporters. People or organizations which or who denies the holocaust will be prosecuted in Germany. What has Japan done so far? Nothing but showing and explaining that they were right and had their reasons to invade whole Asia. That they had their reasons for all the atrocities, the murders, the rape .... Furthermore, they just eradicate the atrocities, their sins as a part of their denial history out of their books as if they never happened.
Abe will not be acting in his antagonist way if America stop supporting his behaviour. I think Asians should support Kim in North Korea to stop Abe from his distorting the war crimes of Japan. Why must he even remotely deny the atrocities caused by Japanese during the world war and support such henious act that killed thousands by visiting the shrine containing the dead that were very sick and beastly in their acts.
Living in an "uninhabitable land" such as Japan, illegal migration carried out at a state level such as those colonization of Korea, invasion of China numerous times and its territorial ambition in far east Russia will never dissipate in the minds of many Japaneses seeking a safe Japan else.
The ongoing threat of earth quakes,etc that one day will destroy Tokyo or a massive area shapes the minds and behavior of many Japanese and its Government.
USA knows it too well that it had laid 2 atomic bombs that killed and wounded over half a million Japaneses civilians that Japan will never forget nor forgive. Getting the US into war with Chinese is the most expedient way to revive the old military Japan Imperial Empire that some of them are so proud of.
Lee from Hong Kong
Kim with North Korea is on their best way to drive into an abyss. It is only a matter of time when they destroy themselves.


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