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'Test and opportunity' seen ahead for Japan

By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-03-16 07:28:21


Premier Li Keqiang has defined this year as "both a test and an opportunity" for ties between China and Japan, and he urged Tokyo to "face history squarely" amid the 70th anniversary of the victory in the world's war against fascism.

Li said the China-Japan relationship is "in difficulty", as he addressed a news conference at the close of the third session of the 12th National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.

Observers said a clear signal was sent to warn Tokyo against any attempt to gloss over wartime atrocities, as the premier emphasized that "the crux of the issue is how that war and that part of history are viewed".

"If leaders of Japan can face history squarely and maintain consistency in how they view that part of history, there will be a new opportunity for improvement and further growth of China-Japan relations," he said.

According to Li, an ideal tackling of the issue "will also create favorable conditions for the growth of the business relationship between the two countries".

Foreign leaders, including South Korean President Park Geun-hye and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have recently raised concerns about or made suggestions on Tokyo's official position on its wartime past.

When it comes to one's view of history, the premier said, a correct outlook "means one needs to take history as a mirror and at the same time look to the future".

"For leaders of a country, they-while inheriting the historical achievements made by their forefathers-also need to shoulder the historical responsibilities for crimes committed in the past," Li said.

Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japan studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said that the Japanese Cabinet has demonstrated a "die-hard subscription" to a historical revisionist stance, since Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida rebuked criticism from Merkel earlier this month.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this month that "70 years ago, Japan lost the war. Seventy years later, Japan must not lose its conscience."

China's ambassador to Japan told China Daily in a recent interview that, for Japan, only by making repentance and reflections in real and concrete terms over the wartime past could "a real reconciliation be realized between the two nations".

Premier Li said on Sunday that the war of aggression imposed on the Chinese people by the Japanese militarists "brought untold suffering, and average Japanese were also victims of that war".

A Japanese reporter asked Li about the possible impact of China's planned events to mark the anniversaries, including a rally.

Many countries also have plans to hold various commemoration activities, Li said.

The purpose of these ceremonies is "to firmly bear in mind the hard lessons gained from the past and ensure that that kind of history will never repeat itself", the premier said.

Events in China will also be used "to uphold the outcomes of World War II and the postwar international order and international laws to maintain enduring peace for mankind," he added.