China’s ruling Communist Party, in its official newspaper, called on Japan to not “play tricks” with history after comments by a Japanese official cast doubt on whether newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would uphold a 1993 apology to women forced into sex slavery in World War II.
Any “muddling or distortion” of Japan’s wartime atrocities will hurt the victims of its past militarism and give Asian nations reason to be highly wary of the new government, a commentary published in today’s People’s Daily newspaper said. The article’s author was identified as Zhong Sheng, whose name sounds in Chinese like “voice of China” and for whom no personal details were given.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said yesterday the apology needed to be reviewed by experts and historians before Abe’s administration supported it. The comments add to tensions arising from a dispute over control of islands in the East China Sea that’s strained relations between Asia’s biggest economies and led Japan to dispatch fighter jets in response to Chinese planes sent to “patrol” the islands.
The People’s Daily commentary, which noted Suga’s comments, said Japan would “never receive the forgiveness and respect of Asian countries” if it held the “wrong attitude toward history.”
Abe, who won a second term as prime minister this month, said in March 2007 during his earlier stint in office that there was “no evidence” Japan’s military forced women into prostitution during its occupation of Asia in World War II. That statement brought protests from South Korea and clashed with a 1993 study by Japan’s Cabinet Office that said women “were recruited against their own will.”
Then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono said in a statement at the time that the government offered “its sincere apologies and remorse.”