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Japan questions UN chief's remarks on history, regional tensions

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-8-27 14:31:18

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday questioned comments made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who blamed Japan for the current strained relations with China and South Korea and urged Japanese leaders to have a correct view of history.

The top government spokesperson expressed displeasure over the remarks and inferred that the UN chief did not fully understand Japan's position.

"It is extremely questionable whether the secretary general had knowledge of our stance when he made the comments," Suga told a regular press conference, adding that "we will inquire about what he intended to say through the United Nations."

Along with Suga, other senior Japanese officials have also expressed concern over Ban's comments, believing that they lacked "neutrality."

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said that he found it very regrettable that the tension among the three northeast Asian countries continues on due to issues of history and other political reasons.

He was referring not only to Japan's misperception of history, but also to ongoing territorial disputes between Japan and China and Japan and South Korea.

Ban said Monday at a press conference during a visit to Seoul that Japan needs determination by political leaders and a correct awareness about history. He urged Japan's leaders to indulge in some "very deep introspection," with particular reference with Japan's plans to revise its pacifist constitution.

But while Suga conceded that Japan does indeed have historical issues to resolve with its neighbors, regarding Japan's brutal colonial rule in the region during World War II, he insisted that Japan was a nation that continues to aspire towards peace.

"Even though we have issues to be resolved with South Korea and China, we have stated that we need to have dialogue," Suga said.

"Japan is a country that has aspired to contribute to peace and security since the end of World War II," the top government spokesperson said.

He added that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is calling for dialogue with Japan's neighbors over the current tensions, which are showing no signs of abating as Japan maneuvers towards revising its constitution so its Self-Defense Forces have more autonomous power, and is taking steps toward beefing up its maritime hardware.

Japan has further added to tensions with its neighbors by visits this month by senior ministers and politicians to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo that honors Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals in the World War II.

The visits were made on the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender at the end of World War II, and while Abe didn't visit the notorious shrine in person, he sent a proxy to make an offering and to say prayers on his behalf and said it was " regrettable" that he could not visit the war-linked shrine himself.

The shrine is widely regarded as a symbol of Japan's brutal imperial past by China and South Korea, both of which reacted angrily to the official visits.
Posted in: Asia-Pacific