China Parliamentary Sessions 2015

Japan's Shinzo Abe welcome to China's WW2 parade if 'sincere': Beijing

Anyone who is sincere can come to the event marking end of second world war, the foreign minister says in message to Japanese leader

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 March, 2015, 3:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 1:02pm

The foreign minister said on Sunday that Japan's political leaders needed to be more sincere in dealing with historical issues - and suggested that if they were then China would be open to inviting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a military parade and other events marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.

"We will extend invitations to the leaders of all relevant countries and international organisations, and will welcome anyone who is sincere about coming," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a press conference in Beijing, when asked whether China planned to invite Abe to the commemorations.

But Wang renewed calls for Abe's government to properly face Japan's role and its defeat in the war.

"Seventy years ago Japan lost the war. Seventy years afterwards, Japan must not lose its conscience," he said.

"Will it continue to carry the baggage of history or will it make a clean break with past aggression? Ultimately, the choice is Japan's."

Relations between the Asian powers have plunged over issues including territorial disputes and Japan's 19th- and 20th-century invasions, with the Communist Party regularly stoking nationalism as part of its claim to a right to rule.

"This [war] has been haunting the China-Japan relationship," Wang said, pointing his index finger in the air and recalling the words of an elder Chinese diplomat: "The more the victimiser is conscious of his guilt, the easier the victimised can recover from their suffering.

"Those in power in Japan should first ask themselves what they have done on this score. Of course, the people of the world will reach their own conclusion."

A meeting between President Xi Jinping and Abe after an Asia-Pacific summit in Beijing in November was meant to clear the air but was instead marked by the brevity of the two men's handshake and body language that suggested disdain for each other.

China has been ratcheting up pressure on Abe over wartime issues and over what he will say this summer on the anniversary of what Beijing calls its victory in a war of resistance against Japanese aggression.

A major focus is on whether Abe will uphold Japan's past apologies, such as those expressed in statements on the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the war's end, which used the terms "colonial rule" and "aggression".

An official 1995 apology by then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama said Japan "through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations", adding the premier felt "deep remorse" and offered a "heartfelt apology".

Unlike the former Soviet Union, China does not hold major annual military parades, but has announced plans for one to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.

Wang, a former ambassador to Japan, said it was "perfectly normal" for China to stage the parade and that the main purpose was to "remember history, commemorate the martyrs, cherish peace and look to the future".

Beijing has not given a specific date for the parade, but it regards September 3, the day after Japan signed its formal surrender to Allied forces on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, as victory day.

Kyodo, Agence France-Presse