Japan told to face up to history, reflect on protests
Premier Wen Jiabao told Japan yesterday to "face up to history" and admit to the tremendous suffering it inflicted on people in China, Asia and the rest of the world during World War II.
Demonstrations erupted in some major cities in China at the weekend against Japan's perceived distortion of history and whitewashing of its wartime atrocities. Protesters in China and elsewhere in Asia have also spoken out against Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
"The strong responses from the Asian people should make the Japanese Government have deep and profound reflections," Wen told reporters in New Delhi, where he was wrapping up a four-day trip.
"Only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for its past, and wins over the trust of the people of Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibility in the international community," he said.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told yesterday's regular media briefing that the protests were "totally spontaneous", saying they were prompted by the Chinese public's dissatisfaction at "the bad practice and attitude adopted by the Japanese side on its history of aggression."
"What I want to stress is that they (the protests) are not targeted against the Japanese people," Qin said.
When asked how Beijing would respond to Japanese demands for an apology and compensation for damage to the Japanese Embassy and other Japanese institutions in China, Qin said the Chinese Government has all long required the demonstrators to express their feelings in a calm, rational and orderly manner in accordance with the law.
"The relevant authorities have done a lot in this regard to ensure the security of Japanese institutes and citizens in China," he added.
"As for a few excessive actions during the demonstration, that is not what we wish to see."
The spokesman said the Japanese side must seriously and properly handle the history of Japanese aggression against China and other major issues of principle bearing on the feelings of the Chinese people.
During yesterday's meeting with the President of Kyodo News Service Toyohiko Yamanouchi, State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan called upon Japan to accept its shameful past to allow the country to move forward when handling history-related issues and promote friendship between China and Japan.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of anti-fascist resistance and China's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Invasion (1937-45).
In March, on the sidelines of the third annual session of the 10th National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao indicated that the relationship with Japan is one of the most important bilateral relationships for China and made three suggestions for improvement of bilateral ties: conditions should be created in order to promote high-level exchanges and visits, the two countries should work together to launch strategic studies concerning ways and means to promote friendship between the two countries, and the historical issue should be appropriately handled.
(China Daily 04/13/2005 page1)