Japan has hit out at China over a newspaper story that said Tokyo wanted another war and included a map showing mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the latest ratcheting up of tensions between the two countries.
The Chongqing Youth Daily, which serves the western metropolis, ran a map on July 3 entitled “Japan wants a war again” in English and Chinese. It included mushroom clouds over the western Japanese cities that remain the only places to have been hit by an atomic bomb. The map appears to have been removed online since publication.
“It is truly thoughtless to depict a mushroom cloud,” Fumio Kishida, Japan’s foreign minister, said yesterday. “As the foreign minister of the only country to suffer a nuclear attack, and as a politician from Hiroshima, I cannot tolerate it.”
The incident marks the latest deterioration in relations between the countries whose ties have been strained since a row over the Senkaku Islands, a chain in the East China Sea that Japan controls but China claims and calls the Diaoyu, emerged in late 2012. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, and Xi Jinping, China’s president, have yet to visit each other’s countries despite having both been in office for well over a year.
Tensions started to ease last year but rose again after December, when Mr Abe visited Yasukuni, a shrine to Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals. During a visit to Australia yesterday, Mr Abe said Japan’s “fundamental position” was to improve relations with China, saying that, “the door to China is open from the Japanese side and we hope that the Chinese side take the same posture”.
His comments came a day after Mr Xi attacked Japan for failing to confront its wartime past. Speaking on the 77th anniversary of the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which sparked the Japanese invasion of China, the Chinese president said: “Anyone who intends to deny, distort or beautify the history of aggression will never be tolerated by Chinese people and people of all other countries.”
Speaking at a news conference in Beijing with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Monday, Li Keqiang, China’s premier, criticised Japan, saying peace required countries to learn the lessons of history. China likes to compare Japan to Germany, which is seen to have shown full contrition over Hitler and the Nazis. The comments by the Chinese leaders follow a decision by Japan to reinterpret its constitution to allow its Self-Defense Forces to defend allies under attack.
Additional reporting by Julie Zhu
中国西部直辖市重庆的《重庆青年报》7月3日刊登了一幅地图，中英文标题是“日本又想打仗了”(Japan wants a war again)。在这幅地图上，上述两个日本西部城市——迄今仅有的两个遭受过原子弹攻击的地方——的上空画着蘑菇云。自发表以来，这幅地图似乎已从网上撤下。
这一事件标志着中日两国关系的最新恶化。自2012年下半年中日围绕东中国海一个日本控制、但中国也宣称拥有主权的岛群——日本称尖阁诸岛(Senkaku Islands)，中国称钓鱼岛及其附属岛屿——爆发争吵以来，两国关系一直陷于紧张。日本首相安倍晋三(Shinzo Abe)和中国国家主席习近平尽管都已上任一年多，但仍未互访。