China ruled out talking to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying he “closed the door” to any meetings with Chinese leaders after visiting a site that memorializes fallen Japanese soldiers including war criminals.
“Chinese people don’t welcome him,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a briefing in Beijing today. “What Abe needs to do now is confess his mistakes to the Chinese government and the Chinese people.”
Qin’s remarks reflect China’s anger over Abe’s Dec. 26 visit to the Yasukuni shrine and signal that tensions strained by a territorial dispute in the East China Sea won’t improve soon. The visit also infuriated South Korea, which also After China announced an air defense identification zone in November, Abe had proposed a meeting of leaders to reset relations.
Asked whether Chinese leaders would meet Abe one-on-one or at multilateral venues, Qin replied: “Chinese people certainly won’t welcome him and Chinese leaders will not meet him.”
China will host a meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders in Beijing next year. China will organize the event “in line with APEC rules and practices,” Qin said.
Abe, who won a second term as prime minister a year ago, 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.
In a statement today, South Korea President Park Geun Hye also offered criticism without mentioning the Yasukuni visit.
“If a nation repeats actions that run counter to the conscience and universal standards and norms of the international society, that nation cannot be considered a first-class nation no matter how strong and economically big it is,” Park’s said in the statement.