China’s ambassador to Cambodia on Monday rebuked her Japanese counterpart for defending his prime minister’s visit to a controversial shrine for Japan’s war dead, marking the third round in their bout of diplomacy by letter-to-the-editor.
In a letter published in the Chinese-owned Khmer Daily on Monday, Chinese Ambassador Bu Jianguo said the shrine visit had effectively shut the door on direct dialogue between the two countries.
The missives between the ambassadors started with a letter in local Cambodian papers from Ms. Bu two weeks ago calling Mr. Abe’s visit in December to the Yasukuni Shrine “a flagrant provocation to the peace-loving people of the entire world,” and accusing him of harming stability in the region.
Official visits to the shrine by Japanese premiers have always been a sore point with China. Among the 2.5 million war dead venerated there are several convicted war criminals, including 14 Class A criminals who were behind Japan’s brutal occupation of China during World War II.
In a reply to Ms. Bu’s letter published by a local paper last week, Japanese Ambassador Kumamaru Yuji said his Chinese counterpart had misinterpreted Mr. Abe’s shrine visit. He said Mr. Abe was not venerating war criminals with his visit and was striving to promote regional peace, not destroy it.
Not willing to let the matter rest, Ms. Bu published her reply to Mr. Yuji in the Khmer Daily on Monday, accusing Japan of hypocrisy and disrespect.
“Some Japanese politicians always talk about democracy, freedom and human rights but they don’t want to change their attitude toward history, war and invasion and they just deny,” she writes.
“This doesn’t only lack basic respect for the sentiments of people living in the victimized countries but is also a huge insult against democracy, freedom and human rights.”
Ms. Bu adds that Mr. Abe’s visit had struck a serious blow to relations between China and Japan, which are already locked in a potentially volatile territorial dispute over islands that lie between them.