China U.N. envoy decries Yasukuni visit, Abe’s motives


China’s top envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Yasukuni Shrine, questioning the conservative leader’s motives and warning the international community to “remain vigilant.”

“To pay homage to such a place, where the war criminals are enshrined, is a fundamental question bearing on the charter of the United Nations,” Ambassador Liu Jieyu said, noting many Class-A war criminals are enshrined there.

“It all boils down to whether a leader of a country should stand on the side of maintaining the principles and the purposes of the charter of the United Nations or to side with war criminals,” he said.

The Shinto shrine honors around 2.5 million war dead, as well as war criminals, including Prime Minister Gen. Hideki Tojo.

Abe’s Dec. 26 visit drew the usual backlash from Asian countries that came under Japan’s wartime aggression. In a rare move, however, the United States joined the criticism, saying Tokyo should improve relations with its neighbors and noting it was “disappointed” by the Japanese leadership’s action that will exacerbate regional tensions.

Liu said Yasukuni “whitewashes and glorifies aggression and trumpets a militaristic outlook of history” and he accused Abe of standing on the “wrong side of history.”

“The question inevitably arises as to what Abe is up to, where does he intend to take his country?” the Chinese envoy added.

“The international community should remain vigilant and issue a warning, a warning to the effect that Abe must correct his erroneous outlook of history,” Liu said, warning that his actions might take the country down a “very dangerous path.”

After Liu’s remarks, Japanese Ambassador to the U.N. Motohide Yoshikawa said Abe’s pilgrimage was “by no means to pay homage to war criminals or to praise militarism.” He expressed the view in an email to reporters and attached a copy of Abe’s statement issued on the day of his visit to the shrine that said he made the visit to pray for peace.

  • 武 東郷

    Yasukuni is the last resting place of the souls of those war
    dead. At least that is what we Japanese believe. Whether criminal or not, the dead are dead and we treat them equally after death. Maybe it is too difficult to understand for the people like the Chinese who humiliate people even after their deaths. In early 1950s, more than 40 million Japanese petitioned the government to treat those so-called war criminals as “died on official duty” so that their bereft families would be eligible for state pension.

    Bewteen 1978 and 1985, 3 Japanese Prime Ministers paid a total of 21 visits to Yasukuni Shrine and Chine did not raise
    any objection at all. During those seven years, three apanese
    Ministers visited China and were all welcomed. China did not say anyting about Yasukuni visit. Also during those years, Chinese leaders like Deng Xiao Ping, Hua Guofeng, Zhao
    Ziyang and Hu Yaobang visited Japan and none of them said anything about Yasukuni. China has not given any explanation as to why it started to complain about Yasukuni in 1985.

    When he was young studying in Japan, Zhou En-lai visited Yasukuni Shrine on 30th April 1918 and he wrote in his diary on the following day that he was very much impressed with the on-going spring festival(看了深受感動).

    • JTCommentor

      There is a big difference between what the leader of the country could logically be able to do, and could do if the eyes of the world werent looking on him – and what he should do given his position and the attention of the world.

      While your facts, numbers, and opinion is that China shouldnt be angry or hurt by the visit, the fact is that they are. Anger is an emotion, hurt is an emotion – they dont follow logic and numbers. Whether that hurt and anger is justified is another question, and what has led current generation Chinese to be more hurt and angry than past generations is an interesting topic. But its not the topic here. The topic here is that Abe is the prime minister, he knew very well that China would be angered and hurt by his visit, yet he did it anyway. If he did it based on logic and facts, because he “should” be able to do it, than that is childish. If he did it and didnt care what the consequences would be, then thats irresponsible. People say that the outside world shouldnt interfere or have an opinion on this – but Abe is the leader of the country – by very definition his every move is in the public eye, and under worldwide scrutiny. Whether he wants to admit it or not, or whether he splits hairs between his “public capacity” and “private capacity”, his actions are interpreted as, or at least to reflect, the actions of the country. If he wants to do selfish acts, then he should go back to be a private citizen. If he wants his power, he needs to act responsibly.

      I write this with respect, and not taking a view on historical issues. I am a big fan of Japan, and have total respect for the country – both its history and its present. But on this, I think Abe was wrong, and it can only hurt all involved (including many Japanese citizens who believe he should not have done it).