BEIJING – A spokesman for China’s top political advisory body accused Japan on Monday of hiding its responsibility for World War II and urged the country’s leaders to “express deep remorse” ahead of the 70th anniversary of the war’s end.
Lyu Xinhua, spokesman for this year’s session of the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference (CPCC), criticized the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for attempting to deny the country’s war guilt.
“Most political figures including leaders of the current government have never expressed deep remorse or a sincere apology like the German leaders over the Nazi Holocaust of the Jewish people,” Lyu told reporters on the eve of the group’s annual conference.
Instead, the country’s political leadership has made attempts “to cover up historical facts related to . . . ‘comfort women’ and the Nanking Massacre,” he said.
Lyu urged Japan to embrace responsibility for its past ahead of this summer’s anniversary.
“It is time to deeply reflect on history,” he said.
China’s government has long criticized Japan for its stance on the war, but tensions have escalated since Abe took office in 2012, bringing with him a coterie of conservative political advisers, some with deep ambivalence toward claims regarding Japan’s responsibility for the conflict.
Recent moves by Abe to re-examine Japan’s previous statements on the war have raised concerns in Beijing that the country is trying to distance itself from its past.
Abe will be issuing a statement for the 70th anniversary of the war’s end this summer. He has said he will not walk back statements issued by previous administrations, a key concern expressed by China and South Korea, among others.
Nevertheless, observers have remained wary of Abe’s plans for handling such thorny historical issues as the Japanese government’s role in the comfort women system, a network of wartime brothels used by the Japanese military.
Although the CPCC has only a limited role in making Chinese government policy, Lyu’s statement may provide a hint about Beijing’s attitude toward Japan ahead of the war’s anniversary.
The CPPC, which begins Tuesday, runs in tandem with the annual conclave of the National People’s Congress that begins Thursday.
Collectively known as the liang hui (“two meetings,”) they constitute China’s largest annual political gathering.
Despite being short on substance, the meetings are regarded by China watchers as both a political barometer and venue for important policy announcements.
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