China has lodged a complaint with Japan over the prime minister’s letter to a ceremony honoring World War II-era soldiers which is seen as a symbol of Tokyo’s past militarism.
On Thursday, the Chinese government called on Japan to make a “clean break with militarism” and reflect on its actions during World War II.
“We urge Japan to adhere to its commitment to reflect on the invasion and take solid action to win the trust of Asian neighbors and international community,” Chinese spokesman Qin Gang said in the statement.
The statement comes after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a note to an annual ceremony at the Koyasan Buddhist temple in central Japan on April 29.
The Japanese premier’s message was read to people who attended the ceremony, which honors about 1,180 Japanese war criminals, including wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo and the 13 other executed officials.
This is while Abe claimed that the alleged war criminals are not considered as such under domestic law.
Relations between Japan, China and South Korea have soured since Abe prayed at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine last December.
The people of Japan consider the Yasukuni shrine a site dedicated to around 2.5 million people who lost their lives from the Boshin War of 1867 through the end of World War II.
High-ranking officials executed after World War II for committing war crimes are also buried at the shrine.
On December 26, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his first visit to the shrine as the country’s premier.
Japan occupied large parts of China and the Korean Peninsula during World War II.