BEIJING – China on Thursday cautioned against adopting a view of history that portrays Japan as a victim of World War II in connection with U.S. President Obama Barack’s historic visit to Hiroshima.
A day before Obama’s trip — a first for a sitting U.S. president — to the site of the world’s first atomic bombing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying underscored that Japan’s past militarism inflicted grave suffering on many people in the world, including those in its own country.
“We hope Japan can take a responsible attitude toward its own people and the international community, and earnestly take history as a mirror to avoid a recurrence of the tragedy of the war,” Hua told a regular press briefing, when asked about the Hiroshima visit.
Hua stopped short of directly commenting on what China thinks of Obama’s decision, but she added that genuine reconciliation between victimized countries and those that inflicted the suffering on them can only be realized if historical lessons are learned seriously and the postwar international order is upheld.
China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan’s past militarism still run deep, are apprehensive that Obama’s visit may be used to turn the spotlight merely on the suffering of the Japanese during the war.
Such concern is also strong in the United States, where many people think that the bombing was necessary to bring about an early end to World War II and save countless lives.
U.S. officials have said Obama will not make an apology in Hiroshima, which was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945 in the final days of the war.
“Our visit to Hiroshima will honor all those who were lost in World War II and reaffirm our shared vision of a world without nuclear weapons, as well as highlight the extraordinary alliance that we have been able to forge over these many decades,” Obama told reporters on Wednesday after holding talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
After attending the two-day Group of Seven summit in Mie Prefecture, Obama will visit Hiroshima with Abe, who is seen by China and South Korea as a historical revisionist.