World News

Abe: China-Japan Ties 'Similar' to Britain and Germany Before WW1

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the rocky relationship between Japan and China is comparable to that of Germany and Britain before World War One.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr. Abe also referred to China's steady increases in military spending as a "provocation."

In a later keynote speech, Mr. 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 budget(s) should be completely transparent and there should be public disclosure in a form that can be verified."

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 say strong economic ties make an outbreak of hostilities between the two countries unlikely.

But Prime Minister Abe pointed out 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 One. I have no idea why it was misinterpreted in that way."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang dismissed the comments, saying it would be better for Mr. 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?"

Ankit Panda, an associate editor at The Diplomat, tells 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 One era, is that (public) perceptions of China and Japan and Japan and China are very bad."

Many in China have become more critical of Japan since Mr. Abe took power in 2012, vowing to change Japan's pacifist, World War Two-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. But in recent months, a steady stream of Chinese patrol ships has attempted to change the status quo.

Beijing says tensions were only raised after Japan effectively nationalized some of the islands in 2012, buying them from their private Japanese landowner.

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.

Mr. 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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs