China must take “excessive” counter-measures after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial war shrine visit, state-run media urged on Friday, reflecting the smouldering resentment among Chinese at its onetime invader.
China expressed strong opposition and summoned Tokyo’s ambassador on Thursday to deliver a “strong reprimand” after Abe paid respects at the Yasukuni shrine.
The site honours several high-level officials executed for war crimes after World War II, a reminder of Japan’s 20th century aggression and a source of bitterness for China and other Asian countries.
“People are getting tired of such futile ‘strong condemnations’,” said an editorial in the Global Times, a paper that is close to the ruling Communist Party and often strike a nationalist tone.
“China needs to take appropriate, even slightly excessive countermeasures” or else “be seen as a ‘paper tiger’”, it warned.
It suggested barring high-profile Japanese politicians and other officials who went to the shrine from visiting China for five years.
Abe’s visit was the first by an incumbent Japanese prime minister to the inflammatory site since 2006, and came as tensions between the two Asian powers have escalated since 2012 over an island dispute.
State-run media also excoriated Abe, who has sought to shore up Japan’s military.
“In the eyes of China, Abe, behaving like a political villain, is much like the terrorists and fascists on the commonly seen blacklists,” the Global Times said.
The China Daily called the visit “an intolerable insult” that had “slammed the door to dialogue shut”, adding that “Abe knew it would be an insult. But he does not care”.
It criticised the leader’s “sheer hypocrisy” and “nasty track record”, including “his denial of the aggressive nature of Japanese intrusions during WWII, his lack of remorse for Japan’s historical sins”.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Abe’s visit “a flagrant provocation against international justice and treads arbitrarily on humanity’s conscience”, a ministry statement said on Thursday.
China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, have important trading ties.
But conflict over East China Sea islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan have soured diplomatic relations since last year.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]