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Abe weighs early September China visit, but would miss Beijing’s WWII ceremony

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting China in early September in a bid to repair strained bilateral ties, a government source said Saturday.

Abe is exploring the possibility of traveling either before or after a ceremony in Beijing slated for Sept. 3 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the source said, adding that he will likely skip the event itself.

China has extended an official invitation to Abe to attend the event marking Beijing’s victory in what it calls “the war of resistance against Japanese aggression,” but has yet to receive the Japanese leader’s response, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said Friday during a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

A Japanese government source said in March that Beijing had requested Abe’s attendance. China’s Foreign Ministry, however, did not make the invitation public at that time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will attend the ceremony commemoration event in Beijing.

From Japan, former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama has expressed intention to take part.

China’s announcement of the invitation at a multilateral forum may be intended to focus attention on a statement Abe is expected to make marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Beijing has urged Abe to include a full apology and note Japan’s “war of aggression” in the statement.

At Friday’s meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping referred to Japanese military aggression during WWII, saying he would never tolerate attempts to distort history and trample on peace.

If Abe visits Beijing, he would likely be seeking talks with Xi to ease tense ties, sources said. Relations have been strained over an island territorial dispute and differing perceptions of history.

However, the trip could be contingent on what he says in his WWII statement, as well as on developments in China’s land reclamation and sovereignty claims in the East and South China Sea.

National Security Council chief Shotaro Yachi is planning to travel to Beijing later this month for talks with Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, who serves as state councilor, the source said, in a trip that would lay the groundwork for a visit by the prime minister.

Abe is apparently following German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s example, after she flew to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin the day after Moscow marked the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany on May 9.

Abe and Xi held talks last November in Beijing and this April in Jakarta on the sidelines of international conferences.

China apparently hopes to improve relations with Japan before Xi heads to the United States in September. Abe is also eager to repair ties with Beijing, which could bolster his Cabinet’s approval rating, after bruising Diet deliberations over controversial security bills have left him bloodied, observers say.

Abe plans to express “deep remorse” over the conflict in the statement, though he is unlikely to offer an apology, sources close to him said Friday.

The prime minister will finalize the draft after receiving a report on July 21 from an advisory panel on what the text should contain, they said.

He will unveil the statement at a news conference he plans to call before Aug. 15, the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, taking into account that Emperor Akihito will make remarks on that day.

The omission of an apology may spark criticism from China and South Korea, two countries that have urged Abe to use phrases such as “heartfelt apology,” “colonial rule” and “aggression,” as were used — along with “deep remorse” — in the statement that Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued on Aug. 15, 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary of the war’s end.

A 60th anniversary statement issued by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi contained such phrases as well.

But Abe calculates that even if he makes no apology the statement itself could win a certain level of understanding from the international community because a recent address he made to the U.S. Congress won acclaim in the U.S. and elsewhere even though it stopped short of apologizing for the war, the sources said.

“Post war, we started out on our path bearing in mind feelings of deep remorse over the war. Our actions brought suffering to the peoples in Asian countries. We must not avert our eyes from that,” Abe told a joint session of Congress on April 29.

“I will uphold the views expressed by the previous prime ministers in this regard,” he said.

In what will be a “future-oriented” statement, the prime minister is expected to underscore the importance of upholding universal values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, according to the sources.

Abe is likely to express Japan’s pledge to increase international cooperation in line with his policy of proactive contributions to peace based on the principle of international cooperation, they said.

Japanese government officials and members of Abe’s advisory panel have expressed reluctance about Abe issuing a fresh apology.

“Past prime ministers have offered official apologies for many occasions,” a government official said. “We should put an end (to this) by looking into the future.”

One panel member said, “Reconciliation requires efforts by both sides, not a unilateral apology from the Japanese side.”

Shinichi Kitaoka, president of the International University of Japan and the acting head of the panel, said a report the body will submit to Abe is likely to say Japan committed aggression in other parts of Asia. But it is up to the prime minister what his statement will say, Kitaoka added.

Abe has been studying detailed expressions in the statement and whether or not to seek Cabinet approval for the statement, according to the sources. The government’s official stance is usually approved by all Cabinet ministers.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Let me see. I might do this. Then again I might do that. Some folks are suggesting I think of doing something else.

    Tiresome Abe train of thought.

    Tell the truth and with sincerity. Does not get simpler.

  • Bernadette Soubirous

    People always talk about what the Japanese did to the Chinese during war. Well have the Chinese forgotten about the Opium Wars? I am not Japanese but what about the other war crimes committed by other nations during war. Can we talk about Tibet?

    • Mitsuo Matsuyama

      You are right. PRC should apologize those victims.

    • kiraja

      Chinese’s opposition to English opium peddling in China led to the opium war. The Chinese should apologize to the British for provocations. The US should also apologize to Japan for demonizing them as aggressors at Pearl Harbor.

  • timefox

    Historically, China has not won in any war . They were winning , it ‘s just war fought among themselves .
    When do would do won the Japan ? By opening the ceremony , it is trying to history convenient delusion in China.
    Also we should look to the massacre that China has made during the war at the memorial ceremony .

    The Japanese massacre list by the Chinese military. It never is published in the newspaper strangely.
    Apology from the Chinese government to the Japanese and compensation ? Of course , there is no this for 70 years once such a thing.

    Chinese traitor hunting
    Kankan(Chinese traitor) is a traitor of Chinese. During Sino-Japanese War, a large number Kankan hunting is carried out have been massacred.

    Yellow River flood
    Yellow River outburst incident is a civilian massacre by the Chinese army, which took place in June 1938 during Sino-Japanese War. Chinese military destroyed the Yellow River dam in order to stop the Japanese military advance. This dam destruction, hundreds of thousands of victims came out. In addition, issues an enormous damage to crops, was plagued Chinese. Japanese troops helped the Chinese people suffering from floods that Chinese military has caused, but the Chinese military, which saw it attacked the Japanese forces rather than help the Chinese.

    Changsha Fire
    Changsha conflagration is during the day November 13, 1938 during Sino-Japanese War, is the incident that the Chinese military had set fire to the Hunan Changsha. Changsha was a city of population 500,000, was destroyed most of the city by fire. Tens of thousands of Chinese were killed.

    Tonghua incident
    Tonghua incident and are massacres that occurred in Manchuria, which was occupied by Chinese troops on February 3, 1946 . Chinese military and the Korean army massacred the Japanese and Chinese.

    Tongzhou incident
    The Tongzhou incident, the massacre that occurred in Tongzhou on July 29, 1937. China army massacre and attacked the Japanese. Women of the Japanese are killed is almost rape, murder methods bizarre thing there were many. It is a case that became Nanjing massacre of model China claims . Nanjing massacre and the Nanjing incident different. China has created a Nanjing massacre by this incident to the model.

    Nanjing Incident
    Nanjing incident, assault incident that Chinese military in March 1927 occurred when occupied Nanjing. Chinese military has attacked foreign consulates and denizen, including Japan.