Alexandra Olson

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Japanese envoy Kazuyoshi Umemoto said his country “does not believe” that raising such issues during a diplomatic forum is “helpful in lowering tensions and enhancing the stability in the region.”
He nevertheless offered a defence, saying Japan has atoned for its past and that Abe “would welcome direct dialogue” with the leaders of China and South Korea. He said the purpose of Abe’s shrine visit was to “renew the pledge that Japan shall never again wage war” — a statement that another South Korean envoy called “preposterous.”

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  1. shinichi Post author

    East Asia tensions flare at UN Security Council debate; China, Koreas lambast shrine visit

    by Alexandra Olson

    http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/world/East+Asia+tensions+flare+Security+Council+debate+China+Korea/9444899/story.html

    The tensions gripping East Asia flared Wednesday at a U.N. Security Council debate on war and peace.

    Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “closed the door to dialogue with China” with his recent visit to a shrine where convicted World War II criminals are buried. The envoys of North and South Korea also lambasted the visit. Japan rebuked its neighbours for raising their grievances in an open forum with envoys of more than 50 countries present.

    The bitter exchanges played out over hours as each of the four countries took the floor twice to have their say. It was a vivid example of the theme of the Security Council debate: How to build lasting peace. An emerging consensus among diplomats was the need to reconcile conflicting historical narratives, which Jordan’s ambassador said “can often lie in wait, like dry gunpowder, for a long time, passed down in many communities from parents to children.”

    East Asia’s escalating disputes — both historical and current — have alarmed the world, with the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific warning last week that tensions are likely to grow unless China and Japan talk to each other. The United States has criticized both countries: Abe for his visit to the shrine; China for its declaration of an air defence zone over a disputed area of the East China Sea, including remote islands administered by Japan.

    “Tensions are escalating more than ever before due to the distrust among states in Northeast Asia,” said South Korean Ambassador Oh Joon.

    Oh said “Japan should refrain from provoking its neighbours with its denial of history.” North Korea’s envoy Ri Tong Il said Japanese officials “are driving their knives into the wounded hearts of the victims” and “instigating the Japanese people into retrieving their militaristic ambitions.”

    Japanese envoy Kazuyoshi Umemoto said his country “does not believe” that raising such issues during a diplomatic forum is “helpful in lowering tensions and enhancing the stability in the region.”

    He nevertheless offered a defence, saying Japan has atoned for its past and that Abe “would welcome direct dialogue” with the leaders of China and South Korea. He said the purpose of Abe’s shrine visit was to “renew the pledge that Japan shall never again wage war” — a statement that another South Korean envoy called “preposterous.”

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  2. shinichi Post author

    Japan comes under fire at U.N. Security Council over history issues

    Kyodo News International

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140129/japan-comes-under-fire-at-un-security-council-over-h-0

    China, South Korea and North Korea on Wednesday criticized Japan at the U.N. Security Council for its handling of history, slamming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to a war-linked shrine and the country’s handling of the issue of wartime sex slaves.

    “The Japanese leaders should recognize and reflect on the history of aggression and redress their mistakes by actions so as to gain the trust of the international community including its neighboring states,” China’s Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi said.

    He called Abe’s Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where Class A World War II war criminals are honored along with war dead, an attempt to “reverse the verdict on the war and defend war criminals.”

    During the session on “War, its lessons and the search for permanent peace” at the global body’s highest forum, South Korean Ambassador Oh Joon echoed similar sentiments, saying Japan must address its past if it is to fulfill Abe’s pledge that the country will make a “proactive contribution to peace” in foreign affairs.

    Japan should “refrain from provoking its neighbors with its denial of history,” he said, citing the issue of “comfort women,” a euphemism in Japan for women recruited in Asian countries to provide sex for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.

    “The Japanese government has yet to take the governmental responsibility in addressing the comfort women issue” despite Japan’s pledge at the last General Assembly session to help victims of sexual violence in conflict zones, he said, noting that only 55 former South Korean comfort women are still alive.

    Oh also took aim at Japanese school textbooks that he said will pass on “distorted historical views.”

    Japan’s Deputy Ambassador Kazuyoshi Umemoto disputed China and South Korea’s claims, saying Japan is pursuing the “path of a peaceful country.”

    “The government of Japan, squarely facing these historical facts, has expressed its feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology,” Umemoto said, noting that in atonement it established a fund in the 1990s for former comfort women, known as the Asian Women’s Fund.

    North Korean envoy Ri Tong Il also slammed Japan for its stance on historical issues, called Abe’s Yasukuni visit “a totally anachronistic crime.”

    South Korean envoy Oh also contrasted Germany’s handling of its Nazi past with that of Japan as other diplomats lauded Germany’s reconciliation its former wartime foes.

    “France and Germany achieved what no one could have hoped or even thought of in 1918 or 1945. They reconciled,” French Ambassador Gerard Araud said. “The two peoples do not consider themselves as hereditary enemies anymore, they do not fear each other anymore, they do not have hatred for each other anymore.”

    Speaking to Kyodo News, British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant pointed to the reconciliation between Germany and France as a positive example of reconciling with the past.

    “It was an interesting counterpoint from the French ambassador and to the Chinese and the Korean (ambassadors),” he said.

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