President Xi Jinping has officially invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a ceremony in September commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.
Beijing had been waiting for a reply since the invitation was made three weeks ago, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said on Friday following a BRICS summit.
Cheng said all leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – had agreed to attend the September 3 ceremony, which includes a military parade in Tiananmen Square.
Abe had told aides he was willing to visit China, the Asahi newspaper reported.
However, fearing a domestic backlash, he was considering a visit either before or after the ceremony, it said.
A Japanese government source said Abe hoped to talk with Xi on repairing the damage caused by territorial disputes and differing perceptions of history.
Jiang Yuechun , a professor at the China Institute of International Studies, said Abe’s hesitation was understandable.
“If Abe decides to attend the ceremony, it would be a good opportunity to help his country get rid of its historical burden [as an invader]. It would also be a chance to [turn back] Sino-Japanese bilateral ties,” he said.
“Of course, it’s impossible for the two countries to remedy the breach even if Abe does meet Xi, because there are so many problems left by history that have hindered the relationship, such as maritime disputes over the Diaoyu Islands and fishing rights. It will take time to solve these by rational communication.”
Whether Abe’s trip goes ahead could depend on the content of a statement he is expected to make regarding the war anniversary and China’s activities to press sovereignty claims in the East and South China seas. China has urged Abe to include a full apology and note that Japan was engaged in a war of aggression.
Recent speeches by Abe had reflected on Japan’s “wrongdoing” but “offered no apology”, said Sun Cheng, director of the East Asia International Studies Centre at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Sun said the attitude of the US would be key to pushing Japan into an open apology “because Tokyo cares more for Washington’s [approval] than for China’s or South Korea’s”.
To lay the groundwork for Abe’s visit, Shotaro Yachi, the head of Japan’s National Security Council, was planning to travel to China this month to hold talks with Yang Jiechi , the mainland’s top diplomat, a Japanese government source said.
Abe and Xi held talks last November in Beijing and this April in Jakarta on the sidelines of international conferences.
Observers say Beijing hopes to improve its relations with Tokyo before Xi’s visit to the United States in September, while Abe is eager to bolster his domestic support by repairing ties with Beijing amid deliberations on controversial security bills.
Meanwhile, Japan has proposed sending its foreign minister, Fumio Kishida, to Russia from August 31 to September 1. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Japan within the year.
via Beijing invites Japanese prime minister to ceremony marking end of second world war | South China Morning Post.