BEIJING/NEW YORK – Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi has roundly condemned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to war-related Yasukuni Shrine last week.
Abe “must own up to the wrongdoing, correct the mistake and take concrete measures to remove its egregious impacts,” Yang said in a statement Saturday. “We urge Abe to give up any illusion and mend his ways.”
Otherwise, Yang warned, Abe will “further discredit himself before Japan’s Asian neighbors and the international community, and end up being an out and out loser in history.”
Abe visited Yasukuni in Tokyo on Thursday, drawing immediate fire from China and South Korea, which regard it as a symbol of Japan’s militarism in the last century. The shrine honors the nation’s war dead, including Class-A war criminals.
Immediately after Abe’s visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Masato Kitera and lodged a protest.
In Saturday’s statement, Yang said the Yasukuni visit is “by no means” an internal affair of Japan or an act merely on an individual basis. Rather, “it is a major issue of right and wrong that concerns aggression versus anti-aggression, justice versus evil, and light versus darkness,” Yang said.
It is a matter of major principle that bears on the political foundation of Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors and the international community, he added.
“What Abe has done is push Japan toward a dangerous road that undermines the fundamental interests of people of all countries and of Japan,” Yang said. “This has already given rise to high vigilance of the international community and of people with vision in Japan in various sectors.”
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is “regrettable” that the region is still troubled by historical tensions, the office of Ban’s representative said Friday in New York.
Ban “has been consistent in urging the countries in the region to come to a common view and understanding of their shared history” and “stresses the need to be sensitive to the feelings of others, especially the memory of victims,” the office said.
“It is highly regrettable that tensions from the past are still plaguing the region,” it said.
In a surprise move on the first anniversary of his taking office for the second time, Abe visited the shrine, which honors leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, along with millions of war dead.