China takes foreign journalists on tour of WWII battle sites


The Chinese government on Saturday conducted a two-day media tour of old WWII sites for foreign journalists that appeared directed against Japan.

In the tour, arranged by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, nearly 40 foreign correspondents based in Beijing and other Chinese cities visited five places related to battles that took place between China and Japan in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where Manchukuo, a puppet state established by Japan in 1932, existed until the end of World War II.

The five included the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the “9.18” Historical Museum, which displays the history of Japan’s occupation of Manchuria.

The invasion began when Imperial Japanese troops staged a railway track explosion in Liutiaohu near Shenyang, then known as Mukden, on Sept. 18, 1931, but blamed the sabotage on the Chinese. The Mukden Incident is considered the beginning of World War II for Japan.

The tour was abruptly arranged after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a visit to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo last month, spurring calls within the Chinese government to prevent the revival of militarism in Japan, informed sources said.

Yasukuni Shrine honors Class-A war criminals along with Japan’s war dead and served as the spiritual backbone of Japan’s war of aggression. Many Asian countries, particularly China and South Korea, are aggravated by political visits to the Shinto facility.

A Chinese official denied the tour was linked to Abe’s visit to the shrine, but the sources pointed out that Beijing wanted to win foreign media support for its cause by highlighting the atrocities the Imperial Japanese Army committed during the war. Some of those atrocities are denied to this day.

The journalists included 16 from South Korea and 15 Japanese. The rest were European and Indian journalists.