China on Monday accused Japan’s prime minister of hypocrisy and said he would not be welcome in China after he visited a shrine honoring Japan’s war dead, in the latest sign of worsening ties between the two nations.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) said that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo had seriously hurt relations between the countries and shut the door on dialogue between their leaders.
“Abe’s hypocrisy in his claims of prioritizing relations with China and hopes for dialogue with the Chinese leaders has been fully revealed,” Qin said at a regular briefing.
“The Chinese people do not welcome him. Now, Abe needs to admit his mistakes to the government and people of China, cut loose from the past and make a new start,” he said.
Abe’s war shrine visit and China’s reaction escalated tensions already running high over a festering territorial dispute.
Relations sank to a new low recently after China announced an air defense identification zone that covers a string of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan, but also claimed by Taiwan and China.
Monday’s comments show how the shrine visit has added another reason for China to reject talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Abe on the issue. Xi and Abe had a five-minute exchange on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia in September last year.
Beijing’s remarks add to the steady drumbeat of criticism that it has kept up against Abe since the shrine visit on Thursday last week. China’s foreign minister summoned Japan’s ambassador to protest the move, while other spokespeople from the Chinese foreign service and defense ministry issued scathing criticisms.
Japanese politicians’ visits to Yasukuni have long caused friction with China and both Koreas, because the 2.5 million war dead enshrined there include 14 class A war criminals from World War II — national leaders who were either executed or died in prison or during their trials. Japan colonized Korea and occupied parts of China often brutally before and during World War II.
“They are the people who masterminded, launched and carried out the war of aggression against China,” Qin said of the Japanese war criminals. “Their hands are covered with the blood of the victimized peoples. They are fascists. They are the Nazis of Asia.”