The relationship between the two largest economies in Asia has been marred throughout the 20th century due to territorial and political disputes including Taiwanese sovereignty; the invasion of China by Japan in the second world war and Japan’s subsequent refusal to acknowledge the extent of its war crimes; territorial disputes surrounding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and associated fishing rights and energy resources; and Japanese-American security co-operation.
China considers remembrance days for defeat of Japan and Nanking massacre
The central government may designate formal days of remembrance to commemorate Japan's defeat in the second world war and the Nanking massacre, state media reported yesterday, amid disputes over territory and historical wrongs.
The National People's Congress (NPC) is mulling making September 3 "Victory Day of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression", Xinhua said, citing the legislature. The official Japanese surrender was signed aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, and was followed by three days of celebrations in China.
Lawmakers are also considering designating December 13 as a "national memorial day to commemorate those killed by Japanese aggressors during the Nanking massacre in the 1930s", Xinhua reported.
In both cases, a "draft decision" would be debated during a bi-monthly session of the NPC Standing Committee from Tuesday until Thursday, Xinhua said. The national legislature will convene in Beijing for its annual plenum next week.
Meanwhile, Beijing yesterday called Japan a "troublemaker" that is damaging regional peace and stability, firing back at earlier criticism from Tokyo over a spike in tensions in northeast Asia.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was responding to comments by Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida that China's military expansion in the region was a concern, although Kishida stopped short of calling China a threat.
Hua said at regularly scheduled news conference that China's military posture was purely defensive and Japan was stirring up trouble with its own moves to expand its armed forces and alter its pacifist constitution.
She accused Japanese officials of making inflammatory statements aimed at denying or glorifying the country's militaristic past, and said Japan should explain its strategic intentions.
"I think everybody will agree with me that Japan has already become a de facto troublemaker harming regional peace and stability," Hua said.
Hua's comments were the latest salvo in a war of words between the countries that has seen their diplomats invoke the villain from the Harry Potter books, Lord Voldemort, in describing each other's motivations.
Never warm, bilateral ties sunk in 2012 after Japan purchased the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. They are claimed by Beijing and Taipei, but controlled by Tokyo, which calls them the Senkakus.
Tensions worsened further in late December when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine that commemorates 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals from the second world war.
China contends that 300,000 civilians and soldiers died in the "rape of Nanking", a spree of killing, sexual assault and destruction over six weeks after the Japanese military entered the then capital on December 13, 1937. Although some foreign experts put the death toll much lower, no respected mainstream historians dispute the massacre.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press