• Kyodo

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China’s state media on Friday moderately criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s remarks in a statement he issued to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Among other points, official broadcaster CCTV and Xinhua News Agency both interpreted Abe’s remarks as refraining from offering his own apology for Japan’s wartime actions.

They suggested that Abe’s statement relied heavily on his reference to the Japanese government’s previous apologies.

The Chinese government has yet to make an official response to the statement.

For many years, Japan’s relations with China have been problematic due to a territorial dispute, regional rivalry and Beijing’s discontent with Tokyo’s way of dealing with its history of aggression.

Abe’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last November helped to ease some of the recent tensions.

China has since suggested that any further improvement in its relations with Japan would hinge entirely on the substance of Abe statement.

China, along with South Korea, where painful memories of Japan’s actions before and during World War II persist, had called on Abe to offer a “heartfelt apology” as was done by his predecessors for the tremendous suffering Tokyo caused by its past militarism.

Seeing Abe as a hawk with revisionist views of Japan’s wartime behavior, China and South Korea were apprehensive that he could dilute previous apologies, especially key expressions of contrition found in a 1995 landmark statement by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end.

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