BEIJING – German contrition over World War II stands in contrast to Japan’s failure to reflect on its past, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party said on Sunday, following war commemorations in Moscow.
Sino-Japanese relations are plagued by China’s bitter memories of Japan’s occupation of parts of the country before and during World War II. Ties have also chilled in recent years over territorial rows and mutual mistrust over Japan’s bolder security policies and China’s military assertiveness.
A front-page editorial in the People’s Daily praised German leaders for facing up to war crimes.
“In the past several decades, Germany has never halted on the path of self-analysis and self-criticism of its own guilt,” the paper said, citing former German Chancellor Willy Brandt kneeling at a Warsaw memorial in 1970 and current Chancellor Angela Merkel’s past remarks that the country had an “everlasting responsibility” for Nazi crimes.
“The German people’s profound acknowledgment of war crimes stands in contrast to the dangerous trend in Japan’s right wing,” the paper said.
China, which has repeatedly urged Japan to face up to its past, says Japanese troops slaughtered 300,000 people in the 1937 in what is now Nanjing. A postwar Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000.
The editorial follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attendance at a military parade in Moscow on Saturday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany. Xi sat with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the parade, an event that was largely boycotted by Western leaders over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
In a speech to U.S. Congress in Washington last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed “deep repentance” over Japan’s role in World War II and upheld statements by his predecessors, but stopped short of issuing his own apology.
Japanese leaders have repeatedly apologized for the suffering caused by the country’s wartime actions, including a landmark 1995 apology by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. But remarks by conservative politicians periodically prompt critics to cast doubt on Tokyo’s sincerity.