News / Asia

Abe: China-Japan Ties 'Similar' to Britain and Germany Before WWI

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.
VOA News
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the rocky relationship between Japan and China is comparable to that of Germany and Britain before World War I.
 
Speaking to reporters Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Abe also referred to China's steady increases in military spending as a "provocation."
 
In a later keynote speech, Abe said Asian countries should be more forthcoming in order to avoid conflict.
 
“We must, ladies and gentlemen, restrain military expansion in Asia which could otherwise go unchecked. Military [budgets] should be completely transparent and there should be public disclosure in a form that can be verified,” said Abe.
 
Tokyo and Beijing have long shared a fraught past, but ties have been especially strained because of a worsening territorial dispute and mutual concerns over each other's military intentions.
 
Most analysts think strong economic ties make an outbreak of hostilities between the two countries unlikely, but Prime Minister Abe pointed out that close economic relations did not prevent Britain and Germany from going to war in 1914.
 
His spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, on Thursday denied the prime minister thinks war is inevitable between the two Asian powers.
 
“As you can see, Abe basically said things should not become like they were during World War I. I have no idea why it was misinterpreted in that way,” said Suga.
 
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang dismissed the comments, saying it would be better for Abe to "face up to what Japan did to China before the war and in recent history," than discuss Germany-Britain relations.
 
Qin also said it is Japanese, not Chinese, military motivations that should be questioned.
 
“It is Japan that should increase transparency. Japan should explain to Asian countries and the international community why it is attempting to rectify its pacifist constitution, and why it is trying so hard to expand and build up its military. What is its real objective?" asked Qin.
 
Ankit Panda, an associate editor at The Diplomat, told VOA the outlook for improved China-Japan relations is poor, as the two countries have not held high-level diplomatic meetings for over a year.
 
“Even though economic ties between Japan and China are so high today, the possibility of conflict remains very real. What makes the Japan-China case even worse though than the pre-World War I era, is that [public] perceptions of China and Japan and Japan and China are very bad," explained Panda.
 
Many in China have become more critical of Japan since Mr. Abe took power in 2012, vowing to change Japan's pacifist, World War II-era constitution and build a greater regional role for Japan's defense forces.
 
The moves come in response to what Japan and others in the region view as China's increasingly assertive military behavior.

Beijing last year set up an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea, where China and Japan both claim a series of uninhabited but strategic islands.
 
Japan, along with its ally the United States and South Korea, have rejected the ADIZ as a unilateral provocation, and say it has heightened regional tensions.
 
The islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu, have been under Japanese control since 1971. However, in recent months, a steady stream of Chinese patrol ships has attempted to change the status quo.
 
Beijing said tensions were only raised after Japan effectively nationalized some of the islands in 2012, buying them from their private Japanese owner.
 
China also reacted furiously to Prime Minister Abe's recent visit to a Tokyo shrine that many Chinese view as a symbol of Japan's military past in Asia.
 
Abe on Wednesday defended his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, saying he was honoring the souls millions of dead Japanese soldiers, and not just war criminals enshrined there.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Atlas from: Canada
January 24, 2014 2:38 PM
It is totally Japan fault starting up the tensions by purchasing the islands, deny history, worhsipped the ghostly Shrine, increase military spending even under US protection. Don’t forget this liar Abe crying in loud voice to the world that China spending double digit on military spending but comparsion in 2013, Japan military spending is 36% of China and China is 24% of US. This liar Abe is acting like his uncles in the imperial Japan army. Always lying.

by: Tuan
January 23, 2014 2:46 PM
China claim 90% of SE Asia seas. China plays dirty and creates tension in the many regions.
To all Chinese people Beijing is at wrong doing.

by: George321 from: Canada
January 23, 2014 9:38 AM
It is totally Japan fault starting up the tensions by purchasing the islands. Even wrose is now under the ultranationalist Abe leadership who denied history, worhsipped the ghostly Shrine, increase military spending even under US protection. Don’t forget this liar Abe crying in loud voice to the world that China spending double digit on military spending but comparsion in 2013, Japan military spending is 36% of China and China is 24% of US. This liar Abe is acting like his uncles in the imperial Japan army. Always lying
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
January 24, 2014 6:55 PM
To anonymaous and George321, I would like to tell you some additional information. First, Abe's grandfather was just a commercial minister during the WWII and he was acused but conducted after all not guilty of war criminal A. So, he was not enrolled in Yasukuni shrine. Second, what I think most serious for us Japanes, we have not asked ourselves since all after the war, who were actually responsible for the war suffering not only neighbors but Japanese nationals. I guess Abe is skeptical about the responsibilty of war criminal As saying they were merely punished at the "unilateral" war trials. It could be said a commander of the winner is a hero and those of looser are criminals. I am sure all nations having concerned the WWII should reflect on who were really responsible for it. No nation probably could declaire I was completely not responsible for that disaster.
In Response

by: Tuan
January 24, 2014 1:38 AM
Keep your mouth shut! You are an ugly Chinese with false history. In 1979 Chinese invaded, shot and killed Vietnamese on Spratly islands in South China Sea 2000 miles from China main land.
Chinese is HYPOCRITE!
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 23, 2014 2:59 PM
greetings Godwin. should read history especially in the text of Sino Japanese war and WWII Asia theater along with the defeat and Japan signing the surrender documents in more details. Then you may come out with a different conclusion and viewpoint. Japan do not own the islands in dispute just administering them! Abe is a son of Class A war criminal and want to restore Japan past imperialistic " glory". I called it SHAME.
In Response

by: George321 from: Canada
January 23, 2014 2:46 PM
@Godwin
You must not know the history yet and make this mistake thinking Japan own the islands. No wonder you are fool by the liar Abe and his team making falsewood to the world. The real owne is China, Japan illegally took them in 1895 base on unequal treaty. After WWII, Japan was defeated and need to return the stolen properties to China but they didn't. It is the history and you are talking nonsense on this.

Do you know that Japan Abe background now talking peace, he is from the famous WWII war criminal family member and his grandfather is a key member of the evil imperial Japan army. His worship to that ghosty Shrine is an insult to all WWII victims in the world. He should go back to lerarn histroy before to be Japan leader. Shame on him.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 23, 2014 1:11 PM
Shut up George321, China wants to show it has arrived. Last night I learned China is now the world's biggest trader, trading over 4trillion dollars a year. With so much money to throw about, China wants to be everywhere, as well as try to beat Japan to the background after overtaking it in size of economy and trade earning. If Japanese citizen has had an island since 1971, why do you want to say today that it does not belong to Japan? China is trying to flex its muscles in the region even as we see it moving slowly and steadily to become the world number 1 in everything. But a Japan which sees the feeling between Britain and Germany before WW1 will be an obstacle to its expansionist agenda. Don't mistake me here, I am gradually falling in love with China, only IF it should remain steadfast in resisting imperial subterfuges from Britain and USA.

by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
January 23, 2014 9:17 AM
Acording to Shinzo Abe's diplomatic theory, China has been propagandized as a negative country in the international community by western media.Any one those who confronts China would be deemed as a positive country, regardless of who it is involed,how poor it is or how rich it is.
It must be pointed out that Abe will be more unscrupulous and dare to provocate China deliberately in future. By doing so Abe always in an effort to be this hero and would be acclaimed as a brave watch dog by the US’government.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
January 24, 2014 3:03 AM
I am sure US does not support Abe's hawkish stance. US officials said they were disappointed when Abe suddenly visited Yasukuni shrine last year. Most of the general Japanese also do not agree with his right wing policy weighing budgets on millitary. He should seek for some reconciliating measures with China and Korea to solve territorial disputes.

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