In a strange turn of events that had China referring to Japan as “Lord Voldemort” – prime villain in the popular Harry Potter novels by British author J.K. Rowling – Japanese ambassador to London Keiichi Hayashi is now turning the tables on China, saying that Beijing risks playing the role of the “dark wizard” through its attitude of military escalation and provocation.
Hayashi, in a strong reply to accusations made by China’s ambassador to London Liu Xiaoming, has also accused China of repeated attempts “to change the status quo by force or coercion.” Hayashi pointed to a recent incident involving a Chinese destroyer in the East China Sea, saying that actions like those “might be regarded as an act of war”. Liu had earlier claimed that the actions of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – like visiting the highly controversial Yasukuni Shrine – posed a “serious threat to global peace” by “rekindling” the militaristic past of Japan, one that he said paved the way to the Second World War, likening Abe to the Harry Potter villain.
Hayashi throws back the insult to China today, saying that China is similar to the “dark wizard” – with its actions that may spawn conflict. “There are two paths open to China,” he wrote in his op-ed piece. “One is to seek dialogue, and abide by the rule of law. The other is to play the role of Voldemort in the region by letting loose the evil of an arms race and escalation of tensions.”
The dispute between China and Japan is focused on a string of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, controlled and administered by Tokyo but claimed but Beijing. The waters around the islands has become a frequent witness to near misses and confrontations between naval and coast guard forces of the two nations. Japan has claimed that Chinese naval vessels have frequently breached the Japanese sovereign territory around the Senkaku Islands, also claimed by China as the Diaoyus.