BEIJING – Senior Chinese Communist Party figure Liu Yunshan voiced displeasure with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments on historical recognition in a meeting earlier this week with former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka, officials close to bilateral ties said.
Liu, the Communist Party’s fifth-ranked leader, was quoted as saying Abe “keeps acting and talking as if to rub salt into people’s wounds. It makes me wonder if militarism is being brought back.”
He made the remarks during a meeting Monday in Beijing with Nonaka, who is leading a delegation of current and former Diet lawmakers visiting China.
The comment marks the first time news has surfaced that Abe’s views on history have been criticized by a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, the Communist Party’s most powerful committee, headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping.
It appears to reflect the strong dissatisfaction of President Xi’s leadership with Abe’s hawkish political beliefs, and indicates that an improvement in bilateral ties strained by the Senkaku isle dispute will likely not happen soon.
Tokyo’s ties with Beijing have sunk to their lowest level in years over the uninhabited, Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu in China, especially after the Japanese government purchased three of the five islands last September from a private owner, effectively nationalizing the chain.
Apparently referring to Abe’s recent questioning of the word “invasion” and Osaka Mayor Toru Hahimoto’s comments justifying wartime sexual slavery, Liu said the words and actions of the Abe administration and Japanese politicians distort history.
Abe “says that he places value on ties with China, but his actions say otherwise,” Liu was quoted as saying.
Referring to remarks by China’s late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, illustrating the importance of friendly relations between China and Japan, Liu said: “Even now those words ring true. We want to solve the Diaoyu problem through dialogue between both governments, looking squarely at history.”
In response, Nonaka, calling for understanding, saying, “There is not a Japanese person who wants to fight a battle with China.”
In the talks, Nonaka also said that leaders from the two countries had reached an agreement to shelve the Senkaku Islands dispute when normalizing diplomatic relations in 1972 — an assertion contradicting Tokyo’s official stance.
Envoy wants neutrality
Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai has called on Washington to be “truly neutral” on the Senkaku Islands dispute between Japan and China in the East China Sea.
“The most helpful thing the United States could do is to remain truly neutral, to take no side,” Cui said in an interview with the journal Foreign Affairs on May 15. The interview was published online Tuesday.