NEW YORK – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is to visit China in the coming week to mark the end of World War II amid concerns from Japan about his trip, feels it is important to learn from history, the office of his spokesperson said Friday.
“The secretary-general believes that it is important to reflect on the past, look at the lessons we have learned and how we can move ahead to a brighter future based on these lessons,” the office said in response to questions posed by Kyodo News. “That is why he is participating in the commemorative events in China, as he did at other ceremonies marking the end of the Second World War in Poland, Ukraine and Russia.”
Following the announcement Thursday that Ban will visit Beijing at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Tokyo has told the United Nations that the world body “should take a neutral position on events that focus mostly on the past” and expressed “strong displeasure” with the U.N. chief’s attendance.
His office also noted that Ban had sent his high representative for disarmament affairs to attend the Hiroshima peace memorial ceremony on the Aug. 6 anniversary of the atomic bombing by the United States.
The ceremony on Thursday, the anniversary of what China calls the victory in its “War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War,” will include a military parade through Tiananmen Square. A U.N. source said Ban would be present at the parade.
While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of other major Western countries will skip the commemoration, Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Park Geun-hye are scheduled to attend.