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Japan Says Chinese Premier Li Ignores History in Potsdam Remarks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang walk past a military honor guard at the chancellery in Berlin on May 26, 2013. Photographer: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

May 27 (Bloomberg) -- A top Japanese official said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang “ignored history” by interpreting a 1945 allied agreement to mean Japan should hand over disputed islands to China.

In a speech yesterday in Potsdam, Germany, site of the conference where terms of surrender were dictated to Japan, Li said that agreement reaffirmed Japan should return all territory stolen from China, including “Taiwan and related islands.”

Li’s speech continues a campaign by China to assert control over the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, that are administrated by Japan. Last year’s decision by the Japanese government to buy the islands from a private owner sparked protests in China and harmed a $340 billion annual trade relationship.

“These were comments that completely ignored history,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters today in Tokyo. “The Senkaku islands are our territory in terms of history and international law and we have administrative control over them.”

In his speech, Li said no one must be allowed to violate the peace achieved after World War II.

“We should not allow anyone to destroy or deny the postwar peace order,” Li said yesterday in Potsdam.

Shrine Visits

Tensions were compounded last month after Japanese lawmakers visited a Tokyo shrine where war criminals are honored along with other war dead. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then vowed to protect the islands by force.

Earlier this month Chinese scholars at a state-run academy said the Potsdam agreement and other World War II-era allied declarations call into question Japan’s sovereignty over Okinawa, site of U.S. military installations. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying later declined to affirm Japan’s sovereignty over Okinawa and other islands in the Ryukyu chain.

“The forces of justice and the Chinese people -- and the people elsewhere who love peace -- will never accept any comments or actions that seek to deny or glorify the past history of fascist aggression,” Li said.

Li is visiting Germany as part of his first overseas trip since taking office. He has also visited Switzerland, Pakistan and India during the trip.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Patrick Donahue in Potsdam at; Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at; Michael Forsythe in Beijing at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at; Angela Cullen at

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