BEIJING/S – eoul
China has urged Japan to avoid “crippling regional peace and security” after the Lower House passed bills that could see Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since World War II.
“It is fully justified to ask if Japan is going to give up its exclusively defense-oriented policy,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
“We solemnly urge the Japanese side to . . . refrain from jeopardizing China’s sovereignty and security interests or crippling regional peace and stability,” Hua said in the statement posted on the ministry’s website.
Hua described the bills’ passage on Thursday as “an unprecedented move since the Second World War.
Japanese forces launched a full-scale invasion of China in 1937 and the wartime history between the two nations still heavily colors their relations.
Beijing, which is also embroiled in a territorial row with Tokyo over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, regularly accuses the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of showing insufficient contrition for the conflict.
Hua referred to the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in its conflict with China, which Beijing calls “the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.”
“We solemnly urge the Japanese side to draw hard lessons from history,” she said.
The vote on the security bills marks a victory for Abe and other nationalists, who have ignored popular anger in a bid to break what they see as the shackles of the U.S.-imposed Constitution.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency condemned the move, saying it means that “a nightmare scenario has come a step closer for Japanese people and neighboring nations.
The bills will “tarnish the reputation of a nation that has earned international respect for its pacifist Constitution over a period of nearly seven decades,” it said.
South Korea reacted to the passage of the bills in a muted manner.
A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday called on Japan to stick to its Constitution.
Japan should conduct discussions on its defense policy while adhering to the spirit of the pacifist Constitution, and in a way that contributes to regional peace and stability and in a transparent fashion, the spokesman said.
He reiterated Seoul’s stance that actions that could affect security conditions on the Korean Peninsula and the national interests of South Korea should not be taken without consent from Seoul.
But the spokesman stopped short of directly making a comment criticizing the Lower House’s approval of the security bills or showing concerns over the development.
South Korea hopes to continue close consultations with Japan while keeping a close watch on upcoming deliberations on the bills at the Upper House, he said.