The Japanese Ambassador to Lesotho residing in Pretoria, Yutaka Yoshizawa, wrote in his article entitled “Japan is not competing with China on Africa” (Lesotho Times 6, February) that “Japan and China’s relations with African countries are not exclusive but complimentary”.
If he is telling the truth, I have no objection to that.
The development of Africa calls for support and assistance of the international community. China is always expecting the international community’s cooperation with Africa and hopes that all parties of the international community would work together and play a positive and constructive role in promoting peace, security and development of Africa.
We also wish Japan could match its words with deeds, honour its commitments to African countries and play a positive role in Africa, rather than opening a “Pandora’s Box” on this continent.
However, the ambassador’s argument for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s homage to the Yasukuni Shrine did not convince me of his sincerity.
Last December, in disregard of the strong opposition from China, the Republic of Korea and other parties, Abe blatantly paid homage to Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class-A war criminals and thousands of other war criminals of WWII are honoured.
It is only natural that the homage caused outrage among the victimised countries in Asia and many other countries, even Japan’s western allies were not happy with it and expressed their “disappointment”.
But Ambassador Yoshizawa defended his PM’s visit by quoting his words as “to renew the pledge that Japan must never wage a war again”.
In fact, the Shrine where Abe delivered the speech is a place where the spirit of militarism is lasting and inherited.
The Shrine was a spiritual tool and symbol of Japanese militarism in its war of aggression and colonial rule during World War II.
Even today, the Shrine openly clings to its claims that Japan’s past aggression was “justified”, that Pacific War was wage for self-defense, and that the trial by the International Military Tribunal for Far East was illegal, and honours those war criminals whose hands are fully tainted with the blood of millions of people as “heroes”.
Actually, they were the Nazis of the East. How could Abe, as Japanese Prime Minister, go there for “no war pledge”?
If he wanted peace, he must have gone to a wrong place.
The visit to the Yasukuni Shrine shows that the Japanese leaders have no have no remorse about its aggression and colonial history.
But the ambassador was not shy to say that “Japan has been squarely facing the past,” and that the Abe government “firmly upheld” the position of expressing “deep remorse and heartfelt apologies”.
Facts always speak louder than words.
Abe himself has been spreading the message that “the definition of what constitutes aggression has yet to be established”.
He openly claimed on many occasions that Class-A war criminals were not regarded as criminals in Japan and the convictions by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East were unilateral sentences imposed by the victors of WWII on the defeated.
The Japanese Deputy Prime Minister even called for constitutional reforms by drawing upon Nazi tactics.
The article further said Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine did not mean to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean peoples.
But Japan’s aggression and colonial rule has brought untold suffering to the Chinese and Korean peoples.
If the Japanese leader puts himself in the position of the off-springs of the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, the families of the “comfort women” and labourers forcibly recruited by Japan and later generations of the victims of Unit 731’s lethal bacteria experimentation on living humans, will he still visit the Yasukuni Shrine?
Will he still say that he has no intention to hurt the feelings of peoples in China and the ROK?
He opened the wounds of history again and again by rubbing salt on them, and then said he had no intention to hurt.
Abe’s remarks made no sense at all.
Not only the victimised countries and peoples, but also many insightful political figures, people from all walks of life of Japan have all criticised Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, and five out of the six major Japanese newspapers have publicly opposed Abe’s visit.
They also do not buy Abe’s argument.
We should ask why Abe insisted on doing so, knowing full well the strong opposition at home and abroad.
As a Chinese saying goes that the more one tries to hide, the more one is exposed.
The Japanese leader’s action has just exposed his hypocrisy.
He paid homage to those “ghosts”, actually he has another “evil ghost” in his heart, that is an attempt to deny and whitewash the history of aggression and colonial rule by militarist Japan, challenge the outcome of WWII and the post-war international order.
The reason for us to strongly oppose this kind of actions by the Japanese leader is that it is not just an issue between China and Japan, but a major issue of principle which bears on regional and world peace and stability.
We are doing so to safeguard regional peace and stability as well as the hard-won international order built upon the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.
The tragedy of the history cannot be repeated.
Yoshizawa argued that the Yasukuni Shrine commemorates not only the 14 class-A criminals but also 2.5 million other people.
Let us take an example: Can we say an apple is good when there’s a worm in it? If you don’t want other part to be contaminated, the simple way is to cut the piece out.
As for Chinese military budget, everyone can find the answer from a world map.
With a population over 10 times larger than that of Japan and an area about 26 times as big as that of Japan, China’s per capita military spending is only 1/5 compared to that of Japan.
Japan criticises China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) as showing an “aggressive stance”. I must say it is China’s justifiable right as a sovereign state and totally in line with international laws and practices.
What China did is solely for defense purposes. The fact is that many other countries in Asia as well as in the world have set up their ADIZS.
Japan has set up its own ADIZ for over 45 years already and continuously extended the scope on several occasions, which in some points is only 130 kilometres away from China’s airspace.
Why is it that only China cannot do it? In China we have a saying: One is free to burn while others are forbidden to light lamps.
This is obviously a case of double standards.
After doing all of these, the Japanese leader pretend to be innocent by blaming China’s which he said was reluctant to engage in the high-level dialogue with Japan.
China has expressed explicitly that Japan must not on the one hand, refuse to admit mistakes, speak evil of China and stir up troubles everywhere in an attempt to smear China, and on the other hand duck major matters but take up minor ones, avoid real efforts but pay lip service and chant empty slogans of dialogue.
Such kind of dialogue will be of no effect.
What Abe has done has been to shut the door of dialogue with the Chinese side.
We advise the Japanese leader to fully reflect on history and learn its lessons. Only by doing so can Japan create a better future and win the trust of its neighbouring countries.
Finally, I feel surprised to hear the Japanese Ambassador saying that I “was forced” to make remarks. As a career diplomat, I would like to ask him what are the main functions of diplomats?
I feel sorry for him if his remarks remind us of his own situation.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Lesotho