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Ambassadors spar over shrine issue

By Zhang Chunyan in London | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-10 06:43

Chinese and Japanese ambassadors to the United Kingdom both appeared on BBC's Newsnight on Wednesday night and talked about the Yasukuni Shrine issue and territorial disputes.

The shrine issue concerns how Japanese understand and reflect on their history of militarism and aggression, said Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to London.

The debate between the two ambassadors started at the beginning of the year.

Writing in the UK's The Daily Telegraph on Jan 2, Liu strongly criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited the Yasukuni Shrine on Dec 26, accusing him of deliberately raising tensions in Asia and putting the world on a "perilous path".

Liu also compared Japanese militarism to Lord Voldemort, a villain in the Harry Potter series.

Keiichi Hayashi, Tokyo's ambassador in London, responded and also wrote an article in the same newspaper, comparing China to Voldemort.

Ambassadors spar over shrine issue

The two ambassadors' diplomatic tit-for-tat sparked much attention in the UK. Liu told Chinese media in London on Wednesday that he compared Japanese militarism, not Japan, to Lord Voldemort.

The Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals, has long been the spiritual symbol used by Japanese militarists for their war efforts, in their war of aggression and colonial rule, Liu added.

"It is a matter of Japan's relations with its Asian neighbors, the political foundation of Sino-Japan relations, and it also concerns the post-war international order, the peace and stability of Asia and the world," Liu said.

Liu has warned that under Abe, Japan is seeking to rewrite the history of its role in the war and restore its status as an aggressive military power.

"The only way to maintain peace and stability, to ensure there will be no war, is to stop militarism in Japan," Liu said.

"We are concerned what will happen in their future if they do not face up to their disgraceful record of aggression."

Ambassadors spar over shrine issue

(China Daily 01/10/2014 page12)

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