Japan protests China memorial to Korean assassin as ties fray

TOKYO Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:41am EST

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan on Monday protested against a Chinese memorial to a Korean who assassinated a Japanese official over a century ago, branding him a terrorist and saying the move did not help repair deteriorating ties.

China's ties with Japan have long been colored by what Beijing considers Tokyo's failure to atone for its brutal occupation of parts of the country and what it sees as whitewashing of atrocities in school textbooks.

The memorial honors Ahn Jung-geun, who in 1909 killed Hirobumi Ito, a former top Japanese official in Korea, which at that time was occupied by Japan.

Ito was killed in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, the site of the memorial, and Ahn was convicted and executed in 1910.

Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Monday that Japan would protest the move through diplomatic channels.

"The coordinated move by China and South Korea based on a one-sided view (of history) is not conducive to building peace and stability" in East Asia, Suga said.

"The move is truly regrettable as we had made our stance and our concerns clear to the Chinese and South Korean governments."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Ahn was well respected in China and that it was totally proper to set up a memorial.

"We cannot accept this so-called protest," Hong told a daily news briefing. "We demand Japan earnestly face up to history and reflect on it."

Ahn is seen in Korea as a symbol of the fight against Japanese colonial rule. Ito served four terms as Japanese prime minister and is viewed as a key architect of its first constitution.

China's ties with Japan have deteriorated over the last year due to a row over a chain of disputed islands in the East China Sea, China's setting up of an air defense identification zone and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals are honored along with war dead.

Both China and Korea suffered under Japanese rule, with parts of China occupied in the 1930s and Korea colonized from 1910 to 1945.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (3)
prastagus wrote:
Does this protest means today’s Japan politicians STILL thinks occupation of Korea back then is not wrong and any resistances of Koreans against Japanese occupation is wrong even now? If so, then whoever said Japan is different than before is wrong since their politician’s thinking still haven’t marched on with time.

Jan 20, 2014 1:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
26658982 wrote:
Honoring one person who killed one opposing leader who was responsible for oppressing innocent people.. honoring one person who fought for his country’s independence.

VS.

Honoring 14 criminals who was responsible for massacres killing 300,000 innocent people in Nanking, vivisection of living humans to test medicines and chemicals in Manchuria.. the fascist leaders who were equally evil as the leaders of the NAZI’s…

are these even comparable? who is seeing the history one-sided here? were these 14 criminals fighting for their country when they did all these evilness to the innocent people? really?

Jan 20, 2014 9:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Kailim wrote:
Japanese have an inherited character that they have the courage to commit hari kiri rather than admit their own faults. Plus the staunch American support…. No wonder they are still arguing the ‘one-sided view of history’.

For many Chinese and Koreans the Japanese atrocities are part of real-life experiences told by their own grand parents, some of them are still living.

Jan 20, 2014 10:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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