Asian neighbors Japan and China have accused each other of destabilizing the region in a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday as ambassadors from both countries launched into diplomatic tirades over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the highly controversial Yasukuni war shrine.
Liu Jieyi, China’s UN ambassador, slammed Abe’s Yasukuni shrine visit coming from the council’s debate and discussions on the lessons of conflict. The controversial war memorial honors Japan’s war dead which includes, among others, convicted World War II Class A war criminals. Attempts to change history “destabilize regional peace and pose a serious challenge to the peaceful course of mankind,” Liu said. South Korea also voiced out its condemnation of Abe’s visit, which was at the end of 2013. Japan chose to rebuff the verbal attacks. “Japan does not believe that such actions are helpful in lowering tensions and enhancing the stability in the region,” said Kazuyoshi Umemoto, Japan’s deputy UN ambassador. To China, the visit was tantamount to glorifying the war of aggression that Japan started in WWII. Liu said that Abe “paid homage to those who launched a war of aggression and were up to their elbows in the blood of the people in the countries they invaded.”
South Korea’s UN ambassador, Ah Joon, pointed to the lives of Korean “comfort women” as evidence of Japan’s “distorted” view of history. Ah said that the tension in East Asia “stems from the fact that the Japanese leadership has a distorted view of what happened during the time of imperialism.” Japan has ongoing territorial disputes with China and South Korea, and the diplomatic situation between Tokyo and its neighbors is not helping in bringing the separate situations to a diplomatic resolution. In fact, the “historical biases” of each country is fueling the strain on bilateral ties in the region.
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