Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday tried to play down the significance of overseas reports that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe compared the current tension between China and Japan to that of Britain and Germany right before World War I, saying Abe wasn’t stressing that a war scenario is possible.

Instead Abe just pointed out historical facts and said efforts should be made to prevent a military clash between Japan and China, Suga said.

According to the Financial Times, during a session with journalists in Davos, Switzerland, Abe was asked if a war between China and Japan was “conceivable.”

Instead of denying that scenario, Abe compared the tension between China and Japan to the rivalry between Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I, saying it was a “similar situation,” according to the Financial Times.

During a news conference in Tokyo, Suga said Abe pointed out that World War I took place despite the strong economic relationship between Britain and Germany.

Then Abe stressed that efforts should be made to prevent any military clash between China and Japan, saying it would be “a huge loss not only for Japan and China but also to the (whole) world,” said Suga, who read out what he called a transcript of the discussion in Davos.

According to Suga, prior to that remark, Abe mentioned that Japan and China are strong trade partners and they need to have closer channels of communication when diplomatic problems occur.

“The prime minister said mutual communications are necessary. I don’t see any problems (in his remarks),” Suga told the news conference.

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