• Kyodo

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China’s state-run media has slammed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s choice of right-leaning nationalist Tomomi Inada as the country’s new defense minister.

China Central Television said on Wednesday the appointment showed “how Japan’s security policy is swinging all the more to the right,” urging heightened vigilance amid the trend.

The CCTV report called Inada a “typical right-wing politician,” noting her repeated visits to the contentious Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and her calls to amend Japan’s pacifist Constitution and boost the nation’s military strength.

Inada, who was policy chief in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, replaced Gen Nakatani as defense minister. She is known for sharing views with Abe on security and foreign policy and has been outspoken on controversial historical issues involving Japan’s neighbors.

Xinhua News Agency, citing observers, reported that Inada’s appointment “was made due to Abe’s ongoing push to expand the operational scope of the nation’s Self-Defense Forces.”

It said her appointment “will draw the ire of Japan’s neighboring countries for her controversial revisionist remarks and opinions on history, as well as her regular visits to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine,” which honors class-A war criminals from World War II along with the nation’s war dead.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying accused Japan of “attempting to justify its military expansion and its shake-off of postwar bondage by exaggerating security threats in the neighborhood.”

“We urge the Japanese side to learn from history, stick to the path of peaceful development, watch its words and actions in the military and security fields, and contribute to enhancing mutual trust with its neighbors by maintaining regional peace and stability instead of the opposite,” he said.

Hua’s remarks came after Japan earlier Tuesday issued a defense white paper that highlighted concern over the Chinese military’s muscle-flexing in the East and South China seas.

Meanwhile, in Washington on Wednesday U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to comment on Inada’s appointment as defense minister.

“I don’t want to get into commenting on what we consider to be really domestic politics in Japan,” he said.

But Toner hinted at Washington’s opposition when asked about the possibility that Inada may continue to visit Yasukuni Shrine.

“I’d just say we continue to emphasize the importance of approaching historical legacy issues with — in a manner, rather, that promotes healing and reconciliation,” Toner said. “And that’s always been our position regarding the shrine.”

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