Former Japan prime minister Yukio Hatoyama made headlines when photos of his visit to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial, a wartime atrocity memorial, circulated across general publications in both Chinese and English languages. And even though he is no longer a member of the Diet, and is in fact currently in the opposition, the Chinese government-run newspaper Global Times seized on an apology he made during such visit.
Hatoyama was quoted by Global Times as saying, “I apologise for the crimes that Japanese soldiers committed during wartime.” At the same time, Sina, a Chinese web portal, said that according to Hatoyama, he felt responsible, as a Japanese, for all those atrocities. These words were welcomed by the nationalist Global Times. In its editorial, it said that Hatoyama’s words show that China still has friends. However, it continued that aside from not backing down as regards the disputed territory, they “can find more ways to deal with Japan.”
The Japanese government released a statement that the words of Hatoyama are clearly against the stand of the government and that it regrets the remarks made by former prime ministers of the country. Hatoyama was prime minister for only nine months when his Democratic Party of Japan ended a half a century rule in 2009.
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