BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s military warned on Saturday of the need for a high degree of vigilance against attempts in Japan to deny its history of aggression, ahead of President Xi Jinping’s attendance at World War Two commemorations in Moscow.
The People’s Liberation Army Daily, the military’s official newspaper, said some political groups and figures in Japan are still denying the “barbarous crimes” of Japanese aggression, and still “paying homage to the souls of war criminals whose hands are stained with blood”.
Japan is still “challenging the intuitive knowledge of mankind” by beautifying colonial rule and invasions, and showing “contempt for historical facts and international justice”, the paper said in an editorial.
“To this, we must remain highly vigilant,” it said.
The remarks were published hours before Xi was set to attend a military parade in Moscow to mark the end of World War Two in Europe.
Sino-Japan relations are plagued by China’s bitter memories of Japan’s occupation of parts of the country before and during World War Two. Ties have also chilled in recent years over territorial rows and mutual mistrust over Japan’s bolder security policies and China’s military assertiveness.
China, which has repeatedly urged Japan to face up to its past, says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000.
In a speech to U.S. Congress in Washington last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed “deep repentance” over Japan’s role in World War Two and upheld statements by his predecessors, but stopped of issuing his own apology.
That drew criticisms from those who had hoped Abe would make a strong expression of contrition to placate China and South Korea, where Japan’s military past also rankles.
Japanese leaders have repeatedly apologized for the suffering caused by the country’s wartime actions, including a landmark 1995 apology by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. But remarks by conservative politicians periodically cast doubt on Tokyo’s sincerity.
Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Kim Coghill