BEIJING – China’s fourth highest-ranking leader, Yu Zhengsheng, said Friday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe needs to more readily admit Tokyo’s past militarism and voiced dissatisfaction with his recent remarks ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“For China’s culture, what is important is an ex post facto reflection,” Yu said in a meeting with a group of lawmakers from Japan’s ruling party in Beijing, one attendee said.
“If Japan does not feel sorry for having caused tremendous misfortune to other countries, we have no choice but to show concern that it may repeat the same mistakes,” former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, who led the group, quoted him as saying.
Yu, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said he is “discontented” with Abe’s speeches last month in Jakarta and the United States, because they did not touch much on Japan’s wartime aggression and the suffering it inflicted on China and elsewhere, Nukaga said.
In the two speeches, including one to the U.S. Congress, Abe expressed “deep remorse” over the war but stopped short of offering an explicit apology for Japan’s actions during the conflict. He also did not mention the words “colonial rule” and “aggression,” which were used in apologies issued by Japan’s previous governments.
China perceives that Japan has not done enough to atone for its atrocities before and during World War II, and is concerned that Abe may water down Tokyo’s past apologies in a statement he is due to issue on the occasion of the 70th anniversary this summer.
Yu said this year is important and China wants “Japan to properly face history, show the right attitude about historical understanding and grab a chance for itself,” according to Nukaga, who attended a news conference with more than a dozen members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Yu expressed a desire to visit Japan, but for that to happen, he said, he must wait to see what Abe will say in his anniversary statement, Nukaga said.
Nukaga said he told Yu that Abe has repeatedly promised to uphold “the position on the recognition of history” outlined by previous administrations in its entirety, and believes that his statement will be well-received by the international community.
Despite addressing hot-button wartime historical issues, the meeting was conducted in a “calm atmosphere,” Nukaga said, adding that Yu praised the two countries’ progress in mending their frosty relations in recent months and said it is necessary for both sides to make further efforts.
The meeting at the Great Hall of the People, which lasted about an hour, took place amid an increase in high-level exchanges between Japan and China, although diplomatic disagreements over territory and history remain unresolved.
Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks, the second in the past five months, two weeks ago on the sidelines of a regional conference in Jakarta.
At that time, Abe and Xi agreed to prevent the disagreements from impairing the overall relationship between Japan and China and to encourage exchanges in various fields.
The atmosphere of Abe’s meeting with Xi, according to a Japanese official who was at the scene, was far friendlier than their brief first one in November.
Just two days before the intraparty group’s meeting with Yu, senior lawmakers from Japan’s ruling and opposition parties held talks with Zhang Dejiang, ranked third in the Communist Party of China’s powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, and shared the perception that bilateral ties are gradually improving.
The intraparty group has its roots in an LDP faction of former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka (1918-1993), who played an active role in achieving the 1972 normalization of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing.