BEIJING – A Chinese government official Wednesday renewed a call on Japan to appropriately face its wartime history and pursue peaceful development after Shinzo Abe was re-elected prime minister by the Diet.
“A long-term steady and sound development of Sino-Japanese relations serves the fundamental interest of the countries,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing.
Hua said China remains committed to developing the relationship based on major political agreements between Beijing and Tokyo “in the spirit of regarding history as a mirror and looking forward to the future.
“We hope that Japan will work toward the same direction with China . . . will follow the path of peaceful development and play a constructive role for regional peace and stability,” she said.
Abe, who has been in office since December 2012, was re-elected following the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s resounding victory in the Dec. 14 election of the more powerful Lower House of the Diet.
On Wednesday, of the ballots cast by 470 members of the House of Representatives, 328 went to Abe.
Although Abe’s long-sought first talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping materialized in November, relations between Asia’s two biggest economies remain soured by feuds over the ownership of a small group of islands in the East China Sea and the legacy of Japan’s wartime militarism.
China has been irked by what it perceives as Abe’s lack of remorse over Japan’s past aggression, especially after his visit almost one year ago to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where convicted war criminals were secretly enshrined among the country’s war dead in a move that alienated the Imperial family.
Chinese media and government officials have also repeatedly expressed concerns over Abe’s drive to revise the pacifist Constitution and give the nation’s armed forces a greater security role.
Called two years earlier than needed, the election, which resulted in the ruling coalition’s retaining of a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives, opened the possibility of Abe staying in office for another four years.
In a commentary released Wednesday, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency called attention to the fact that next year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
It said that the international community will see “whether Abe could take advantage of the opportunity to express his country’s intention to mend ties” with China.