China says Germans fine if their war atonement is compared to Japan

BEIJING Thu Mar 6, 2014 1:57am EST

China's President Xi Jinping arrives before the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee

China's President Xi Jinping arrives before the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,March 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China won't make World War Two a key part of President Xi Jinping's visit to Germany this month, Beijing's envoy to Berlin said on Thursday, but added that Germans were fine for China to use their contrition over the war against Japan.

Three diplomatic sources told Reuters last month that China wanted to make the war a focus of Xi's trip, much to Berlin's discomfort, as Beijing tries to use German atonement for its wartime past to embarrass Japan.

China has increasingly contrasted Germany and its public remorse for the Nazi regime to Japan, where repeated official apologies for wartime suffering are sometimes undercut by contradictory comments by conservative politicians

Ties between the two Asian rivals worsened when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine on December 26, which China sees as a symbol of Tokyo's past militarism because it honors wartime leaders along with millions of war dead.

Speaking on the sidelines of China's annual meeting of parliament, China's ambassador in Berlin, Shi Mingde, said it "did not accord with reality" to say China wanted the war to be a focus for Xi's visit, although he did not rule out that Xi would mention it.

"You'll know when it happens. All issues can be talked about," Shi told a small group of reporters.

No dates have been announced for the visit, which the Beijing-based diplomatic sources said would also include France, the Netherlands and Belgium.

They had said Germany did not want to get dragged into the dispute between China and Japan, and disliked China constantly bringing up Germany's painful past.

Shi added that he'd never heard of Germans complaining about feeling uncomfortable with China favorably comparing Germany to Japan.

"I've been in Germany all along talking with Germans about this, and nobody said this to me," he said.

"The Germans have never kicked up a fuss ... This is the difference between Germans and Japanese, how they face up to history. The whole world knows that."

Japanese leaders have repeatedly apologized for suffering caused by the country's wartime actions, including a landmark 1995 apology by then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama. But remarks by conservative politicians periodically cast doubt on Tokyo's sincerity.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman, commenting last month on China's comparison of Germany and Japan, said Tokyo would continue to tread a peaceful path and that it was China's recent provocative actions in the region that were raising concerns. Sino-Japanese ties are also plagued by a bitter territorial dispute.

Asked if Xi would visit any war memorials while in Germany, Shi said the agenda was still being discussed.

"The impression you've got and the impression I've got is different. The Germans have not said that we should not talk about history," Shi said.

"They've said that history should be faced up to, the facts faced. There's no problem here - everyone thinks this. There's no disagreement."

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Dean Yates)

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Comments (4)
dcayman wrote:
Most European westerners fail to understand how deep is the enmity between the peoples of East Asia….centuries of hatred are not so easily appeased and modern leaders, textbooks and media in those countries continue to teach the next generation the old enmities…however dragging outsiders into their hatred does little to improve their relations with outside cultures…perhaps Xi should take a hint and drop it

Mar 06, 2014 2:31am EST  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
The cotton-wool treatment of WW2 fascists, especially the leadership, is directly the attributable to Roosevelt, Churchill and other such leaders involved in numerous covert at the time schemes such as the now famous Operation Paperclip. The German Nazi’s were rewarded with the job in such government departments as the CIA and the military rocket program that became NASA etc. In Japan their industries were rebuilt and nurtured similarly especially by the US. Most fascists ended up doing very well. It’s only the little one’s who got sacrificed for public consumption.

Mar 06, 2014 7:49am EST  --  Report as abuse
Bobsmith20 wrote:
Abe and his Aide is going to extreme right direction that will lead the return of the evil imperial Japan army. Accomplishment of Abe in 2013:
1. Deny Tokyo Trial
2. Deny comfort women
3. Deny WWII war crimes
4. Changing constitution for imperail army return and bring back evil emperor to be head of States.
5. Openly admitted himself an extreme right member in front of UN.
6. Increase military spending even under US protection.
7. Worshipped the ghostly WWII war criminals Shrine as an great insult to all WWII victims. There is no hero there.
8. Keeping the stolen islands that is not belong to Japan.
9. Changing school text and put incorrect history to school children.
10. Still not repent from WWII compare with Germany which is much much better than Japan.
11. Hiding the nuclear weapon materials which violates the constitution.

Abe: Honor to history but not to your WWII uncles.

Mar 06, 2014 9:45am EST  --  Report as abuse
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