BEIJING – China on Wednesday said it, too, has places that Japanese political leaders should visit to pay tribute to war victims, in response to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to go to Pearl Harbor for that purpose later this month.
“If Japan wants to deeply reflect upon (its wartime actions) and genuinely apologize (for them)… China has many places where they can visit and ponder on the past,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a press briefing, citing the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanking Massacre as one of them.
“Just as American people do not forget the Pearl Harbor incident, Chinese people also cannot forget … our compatriots who died in the massacre in Nanjing,” he said.
China will hold an annual ceremony next Tuesday for victims of the 1937 massacre committed by the Imperial Japanese Army in what is now the city of Nanjing.
Lu said that other Asian countries also have similar historically significant places and urged that Japanese wartime actions not be forgotten.
His remarks were China’s first official response to Abe’s announcement on Monday that he will visit the site of the Japanese surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941, that drew the United States into World War II.
Abe will become the first Japanese leader to pay tribute at the USS Arizona Memorial, dedicated to the 1,177 sailors and Marines on board the battleship who died when it was sunk by Japanese bombers.
His trip to Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27 comes after Barack Obama in May became the first serving U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, which the United States attacked with an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.
Japanese government officials have said the visit by Abe, who will join the outgoing U.S. president at Pearl Harbor, is not aimed at offering apologies, but remembering the victims of the attack 75 years ago.
Lu said China and the international community are closely watching if Japan can “correctly understand” its militaristic past.