The Chinese foreign ministry said Tuesday it would be "wishful thinking" on the part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if he hoped to use his visit to Pearl Harbor to settle the accounts for all of Japan's behavior during World War II.
"No matter the posture, no matter what show is put on, only sincere reflection can realize the key to reconciliation," Hua told reporters on Tuesday.
Chinese analysts believe Abe wants to use his trip to highlight the strong alliance between Japan and the US.
Jiang Lifeng, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that Abe is trying to blur the distinction of a just war. "These years the Japanese government is trying to blur the distinction of whether a war is just or not," Jiang said. "Japan invaded so many countries during the war but it seems Abe is only interested in reconciling with the US."
A major event of Abe's trip was scheduled for Tuesday noon local time, when Abe was due to meet President Barack Obama before laying a wreath at the USS Arizona memorial, the site built over the remains of a sunken battleship at Pearl Harbor - the Japanese attack on which drew the US into WWII.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii, is spending his winter vacation there. He will remain in office until January 20, when President-elect Donald Trump assumes power. But Trump, who made clear his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that was a keystone of Obama's foreign policy and that Abe made the heart of his economic strategy, has clouded relations between the two countries.
Zhou Yongsheng, a professor with the Institute of International Relations under the China Foreign Affairs University, believes Abe wants to set a Japan-US relationship framework for Trump through the trip.
"Abe has tightened ties with Washington during his years in office, but he's concerned that Trump's win will destabilize the relationship," Zhou said, adding that Abe is stretching the limits of Japan's pacifist constitution and boosting defense spending.
Abe does not plan to apologize for the 1941 attack but to console the souls of those who died in the war, his aides said.
Japanese media reported Tuesday that a group of 53 scholars and experts from various countries have penned an open letter to Abe, urging him to face up to Japan's wartime aggression.
The letter argues that Abe should not only mourn the Americans that died in the Pearl Harbor attack, but also victims in China, on the Korean Peninsula, and throughout other Asian countries.
"Abe should put those Asian countries at the same level with the US when considering the WWII invasions," Zhou noted.
Agencies contributed to the story.