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High-level meeting between China and Japan 'unlikely'

Publication Date : 06-03-2014

 

Current state of bilateral ties hinder possibility of high-level meeting between the neighbours, says China's ambassador to Japan

 

China's ambassador to Japan has dismissed the possibility of a high-level meeting between the two neighbours due to the current state of bilateral ties.

Ambassador Cheng Yonghua said on Wednesday that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent request for a dialogue with Chinese leaders was "hypocritical".

Cheng, who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the comments on Wednesday on the sidelines of the political advisory body's annual session.

"The problem is: What is your (Abe's) expression and what gestures are you making? You clench your hands in fists and at the same time ask for a dialogue!" the ambassador said.

Tensions between the two nations rose sharply in 2012 because of the territorial row over China's Diaoyu Islands. Beijing's relations with Tokyo further deteriorated when Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, the first visit by a sitting Japanese prime minister since 2006.

The shrine honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals from World War II.

Cheng said Abe himself has closed the door on dialogue with China through his actions.

To break the impasse in relations between Asia's two biggest economies, "first Japan should realise and correct its mistakes," said Cheng.

The remarks came two days after a debate in Japan's upper house on Monday in which Abe said his administration would inherit the spirit of the world-recognised "Murayama Statement".

During his time in office in 1995, then-Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama made an official apology that took responsibility for Japan's past atrocities and wartime aggression during its colonial rule.

However, when a lawmaker from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan asked Abe to read word-by-word some underlined parts of the statement on Monday, Abe deliberately left out words that alluded to the previous administration's confession of Japan's wartime crimes.

"I believe he is still sticking to his false view of history," Cheng said.

Abe asserted in April that the definition of aggression has yet to be established in academia or in the international community. He has also said that he cannot completely accept the Murayama Statement.

Cheng also said Japanese high-ranking officials are sending out different and confusing signals on bilateral ties, which makes it difficult for China to have confidence on Japan's call for dialogue.

According to Cheng, he is very concerned about Japan's right-wing elements in the next few years. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, led by Abe, dominates both the lower and upper houses and there are no major elections due in Japan until 2016.

Right-wing forces have been making headway in realising Abe's revisionist ideas, such as seeking to revise the Constitution so that Japan can regain the right of collective self-defense.

Such actions, based on a distorted view of history, might lead to "dangerous developments", Cheng said.

As for the speculation that frequent frictions between China and Japan might evolve into a war some day, Cheng said China will not initiate trouble, but is also getting prepared for uncertainties.

"In case some forces in the world impose clashes on China in a non-peaceful way, we should be able to handle them," Cheng said.

Despite the shadow cast by the right-wing politicians in Tokyo, the ambassador said he heard "different voices" in other areas of Japan when talking with local authorities.

"And the voice I heard at the parliament is also different from voices I heard in other places of Tokyo. The Japanese should think over whether their parliament has reflected the general views of the Japanese public."

 

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