UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations on Monday brushed aside Japanese complaints over Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s plan to attend a military parade in Beijing, saying the World War II commemoration was an opportunity to reflect on the past.
Japan complained that the United Nations should remain “neutral” and shun the military parade this week marking 70 years since Japan’s defeat in World War II.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric stressed that Ban had attended similar events throughout the year, notably in Poland, Ukraine and in Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin staged a show of military might.
Ban “hopes that all countries will use this time to reflect on the past and obviously look to the future,” said Dujarric.
China’s parade on Thursday, which comes as Beijing takes a more assertive stance regionally, will see 12,000 soldiers and 500 pieces of military hardware roll through Tiananmen Square. Nearly 200 aircraft will fly overhead.
Two dozen heads of state and government are scheduled to attend including Putin, South Korea’s Park Geun-Hye and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma among the most prominent.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama — who issued a landmark apology for the war in 1995 — will be present at the commemorations in a personal capacity, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is staying away.
The conflict is officially known in the country as the “Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.