UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, ahead of his China trip next week, has underlined the need to “learn lessons” from the past in a nod to Chinese warnings against “historical revisionism”.
Ban has confirmed his attendance at commemorative events around 3 September – the day China marks the success of its “war of resistance against Japanese aggression”.
“It’s important to look to the past, what kinds of lessons we have been learning, and how we can move ahead to a brighter future based on the lessons learned. That is the main purpose,” the UN Chief was quoted by Chinese agency Xinhua.
Political leaders in China and South Korea have criticized calls by conservative Japanese politicians to present a sanitized and sympathetic version of Japan’s history to the public and in textbooks, sidelining wartime atrocities committed by Japan.
UN Chief Ban has served as South Korea’s Foreign Minister earlier. Both China and South Korea have claimed that Japan has failed to atone for wartime atrocities committed in occupied Asia before and during the war.
“I went to Poland in May, that’s the place where the Second World War started, and I went to Ukraine, and then I participated in a big event which was held in Russia on May 9. So in that regard, I have been trying to learn the lessons and how these lessons could be applied in the future. That is why I am going to China,” said Ban responding to criticism from Japan directed at his China visit.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded on Friday to the Japanese Cabinet Secretariat publishing information on its website on Friday claiming the disputed islands, known in China as Diaoyu and in Japan as Senkaku.
“The Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islands have been China’s inherent territory since ancient times. We urge the Japanese side to face up to history, respect facts and stop all provocations that harm China’s territorial sovereignty,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday night.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend the September 3 celebrations which will include a spectacular Victory Day parade in Tiananmen Square, featuring 12,000 troops, conventional and nuclear missiles and more than 100 aircraft.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the events on September 3 is expected to criticize Japanese wartime aggression.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye is among the 30 heads of state who will attend the Chinese celebrations next week.
China has earlier urged Japan to “make a clean break with militarism” and build trust with its neighbours after Abe last year honoured more than 1,000 convicted war criminals as “martyrs” who laid the foundations for modern Japan.
China’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, led to the death of some 20 million Chinese, according to Beijing’s estimates. It ended with Tokyo’s World War II defeat in 1945.
China’s State Council last year released a list of 80 state facilities and sites commemorating the war with Japan.