China concerns over Japan constitution plan

Updated: 2007-05-15 20:15

China expressed concern on Tuesday at Japan's plans to rewrite its pacifist constitution, saying it was a cause for misgiving for Asian countries which suffered Japanese invasion and occupation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at 52 Japan's first prime minister born after World War Two, has made revising the constitution a key element in his efforts to boost Japan's role in global security affairs.

On Monday Japan's parliament passed a law outlining steps for a referendum on revising the charter, which was drafted by US occupation authorities in February 1947.

China's Xinhua news agency, noting that the pace of moves to amend the constitution had quickened under Abe, said parliament's passing of the voting bill signified another "substantive step" in Japan's path towards amending the peace charter.

It had also aroused "high concern and misgivings among the people of Asia who suffered Japanese invasion and enslavement", Xinhua said.

"People have begun to doubt whether Japan will continue its path of peaceful development."

Japan occupied the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and invaded and occupied parts of China in the first half of the 20th century. It invaded Malaysia, then known as Malaya, Singapore, the Philippines and other Asian countries during World War Two.

Article 9 at present renounces the right to wage war to resolve international disputes and bans the maintenance of a military.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference on Tuesday that neighbouring Asian countries had given their "utmost attention" to the plan to revise the constitution.

"The facts demonstrate that the Japanese people were correct in choosing the path of peaceful development. We hope that Japan adheres to this direction."

Sino-Japanese ties have been overshadowed for years by what Beijing says is Tokyo's refusal to admit to atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in China between 1931 and 1945.

For instance, Beijing says Japanese troops slaughtered 300,000 men, women and children after taking the then Chinese capital of Nanking (now Nanjing), in 1937. An Allied tribunal after World War Two put the death toll at about 142,000.

Some Japanese historians say the massacre has been exaggerated and some conservatives deny it even happened.

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