BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has defended his trip to Beijing next week to watch a military parade marking the end of World War Two following concern from Japan.
Thousands of Chinese troops will march through central Beijing on Thursday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, overseen by Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Western leaders have mostly declined to attend, as has Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“China’s contribution and sacrifice during the Second World War is very much recognized, (China is) appreciated for all such sufferings, and sympathized by the world’s people,” Ban told U.N.-based Chinese media, Xinhua reported.
Japanese media reported that Japan’s Foreign Ministry has expressed “strong displeasure” with Ban’s attendance.
Ban, a former South Korea foreign minister, said he was aware of those reports.
“It’s important to look to the past, what kinds of lessons we have been learning, and how we can move ahead to a brighter future based on the lessons learned. That is the main purpose,” he said, according to Xinhua.
Memories of the war still burn deeply in China, as well as in North and South Korea, due to what many people believe is Japan’s failure to atone properly for its wartime conduct.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye will also attend the Beijing parade, along with a senior North Korean official.
Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO; Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait