According to a senior spokesman for the Japanese government, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not planning to attend an event including a military parade in China to commemorate the end of World War II. The commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of WWII will be held next week.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga explained to the media that Abe could not attend the event because of his parliamentary schedule. Political analysts note, however, it’s probable the government was also worried about the likely anti-Japanese tone at the event.
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“The decision was made taking into consideration parliamentary proceedings and other situations,” Suga noted. He went on to say that Abe had told parliament he hoped the tone of the commemoration “would not be anti-Japanese.”
Details on China’s end of WWII commemoration event
On an historical note, Japan invaded China before World War II, and Japan’s well documented brutal treatment of the Chinese during the conflict is still a major undercurrent in Japan – China relations.
According to Chinese state media, the parade will commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender and is a sign of China’s commitment to peace.
The event is also designed to showcase the Chinese military’s rapidly growing capabilities at a time as it continues to assert territorial disputes with Japan and other nations.
According to various media sources, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Presidents Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of Mongolia, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic are all scheduled to attend the military parade, together with several leaders from Central Asian countries.
Of note, South Korean President Park Geun-hye is planning to be at the event for a ceremony marking the anniversary of victory over Japan, but she has not announced whether she will be attending the military parade that follows.
Japan PM Abe will seek other venues to meet Chinese president
Japanese media reports had suggested that PM Abe was planning to skip the parade, but was going to make a visit China next week to meet with the Chinese president to try and improve the currently tense diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
Secretary Suga ended the speculation on Monday, noting that the government would look for opportunities for the two leaders to meet on the sidelines of upcoming international conferences.
Japan – China relations frosty
Keep in mind that the two countries have been in a territorial dispute over the the Japanese controlled Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (which China also claims) for some time now. This dispute has led to several military confrontations over the past few years, with Chinese ships going as far as locking missiles on Japanese craft.
As noted in an article on ValueWalk, political experts note that with the current strong anti-China regional sentiment, Japan has also taken steps to improve relations with other countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam by actively supporting them in their ongoing disputes with China in the South China Sea. Japan has made several surveillance flights over Chinese military facilities in the South China Sea over the last few months. Moreover, the Japanese government recently finalized an agreement to sell ten patrol boats to the Philippines, and there is also discussion of a future Philippine purchase of P-3C Orion’s from Japan.