• Kyodo

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China’s propaganda authorities have ordered its online media firms to take a tough stance on Japan following Tokyo’s historic decision this week to allow greater use of its armed forces in defending other countries, sources familiar with the situation said Friday.

The directive says that the media must keep “criticizing” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government for approving the reinterpretation of Japan’s pacifist Constitution, which will permit its military to assist allies under armed attack by legalizing the use of “collective self-defense,” sources close to the authorities said.

The authorities have asked the media to “guide the public to have the right view” on Japan, the sources said, adding that the order was issued after Abe’s Cabinet decided Tuesday to reinterpret war-renouncing Article 9 of the post-war Constitution.

As for their print counterparts, it is most likely that the Communist Party’s spin control team and the government have issued a similar order to China’s newspapers.

The instructions also refer to Abe’s planned visit to Australia and New Zealand later this month, saying “there will likely be some remarks from him (about China) but they should be treated in a way not to stand out.”

Since Abe’s visit in December to controversial Yasukuni Shrine, China has mounted large-scale, anti-Japan media campaigns at home and abroad, alleging that Tokyo is returning to its militaristic ways and that Abe’s government has failed to show genuine repentance for the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II.

The directive points to the possibility that China’s leadership, led by President Xi Jinping, might use the loosening of the constraints on the Self-Defense Forces as an additional factor to condemn Abe’s government.

Xi, on his first trip to Seoul after becoming China’s president in 2013, expressed concerns with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday about Abe’s decision to lift the government’s ban on using collective self-defense, according to South Korean media reports.

In the latest series of attacks linked to Japan’s war of aggression, China on Thursday started posting online what it claims are the written confessions of 45 Japanese who were convicted there as war criminals.

The State Archives Administration said the original texts with Chinese translations and abstracts in English would be released once each day for 45 days.

The release started as China on Monday observed the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the clash between Chinese and Japanese troops that is considered the starting point for Japan’s entry into World War II.