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Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua Writes to Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun on the Issue of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Visit to the Yasukuni Shrine

(From Chinese Embassy in Japan)

2013/12/30

On December 30, 2013, Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua published in Japan's Mainichi Shimbun a signed article with the title of “Declaring ‘No War Pledge’ in the Wrong Place”, which pointedly and forcefully blasts the related wrong views of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. The full text is as follows:

The fact that government leaders on behalf of Japan visiting the Yasukuni Shrine where the Japanese Class-A criminals of WWII are consecrated concerns the Japanese government’s understanding and attitude toward that past war, the political foundation of the recovery and development of China-Japan post-war relations, the feelings of the vast number of people from war-victim countries, and also bears on Japan’s national development direction in the future. The issue itself is an issue of politics and diplomacy.

China has always made a clear distinction between the Japanese militarists and the Japanese people, and between war criminals and ordinary soldiers. We believe the war launched by Japanese militarists inflicted untold sufferings on the Chinese people, and also brought misery to the Japanese people. Those who should be responsible for that war must be a handful of Japanese militarists. Japan accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and the trial by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which is the premise for Japan's postwar rebirth. The Japanese government must keep its promise, taking clear responsibility for issues like the nature of aggressive war and Class-A war criminals’ responsibility for the war. We have no objections to ordinary people showing respect to their dead families. However, Japanese leaders visiting the Yasukuni Shrine concerns their understandings of the aggressive war’s nature and responsibility, which absolutely can not be accepted by the Chinese side.

Japan could have its own concept of life and death and the view of religion, but it can not be the excuse for the Japanese leaders paying respects to the so-called “spirits” in which the Class-A war criminals are involved. After their death, do the Class-A war criminals become the “spirits” deserving respect? Can their crimes and wartime responsibility while alive be written off? Everyone has the minimum sense of distinguishing kindness from evil, and right from wrong, which has nothing to do with religious culture. We have never heard the German political heavyweights would claim that the war maniacs including Adolf Hitler had redeemed their guilt by death and should be worshipped on the grounds of their own concept of life and death and religious view.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a speech after the visit, claiming that they would stick to the “No War Pledge” and the visit was based on the reflection on the past. The Yasukuni Shrine is a wrong place to deliver the speech of “No War Pledge”, and the people with conscience around the world have strong antipathy and questions to the related remarks. The Yasukuni Shrine was a spiritual pillar of foreign aggression for the Japanese militarism before the war; and now, it not only enshrines Class-A war criminals, but also strongly glosses over and distorts the history of aggression and preaches the false viewpoint of history which is incompatible with current international public opinion, and the “Yushukan” is a typical example. Shinzo Abe paid homage to the “spirits” at such a place, propagating “peaceful principle” and “no war principle” to those culprits who started the war of aggression, which can neither be accepted by the people of war-victim countries nor be trusted by the international community. Such a behavior is absolutely a blaspheme to the peace.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed that he had no intention to hurt the feelings of the peoples of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and he, with reverence, would like to develop Japan-China friendly cooperative relations. He also hoped to get an opportunity to make a direct explanation to the Chinese leaders. In view of Japanese leaders’ visit to the Yasukuni Shrine where the war of aggression is glossed over, the international community and the Chinese citizens think of the aggressive war the Japanese militarists had launched, as well as the severe disasters they had brought to the Chinese people and China’s neighboring countries in Asia when they see the “respect” and “worship” the Japanese leaders showed to those assaulters. Without taking history as a mirror, no one would be able to look forward into the future, nor would it be possible for China-Japan relations to adhere to the right development direction.

The visits to the Yasukuni Shrine paid by the Japanese leaders concern the attitudes of the Japanese government toward the war of aggression and political foundation of China-Japan relations, and bear on the political foundation of Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors and the international community. It is by no means Japan's internal affair, nor a personal issue. On the Yasukuni Shrine issue, we hope that those in power in Japan, on the basis of understanding the nature of this issue, can listen more to different opinions from the Japanese domestic peace forces, attach importance to the voice of justice of its Asian neighbors and the international community, learn profound lessons from history, persist truly in peaceful development, and genuinely keep peace and coexist with the neighbors.

The Mainichi Shimbun was founded in 1872, which is one of the major Japanese newspapers and has great influence in Japan.

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