The Japanese government has reportedly lodged a protest following comments made by Xi Jinping at a forum in Germany about Japan’s wartime crimes, according to the South China Morning Post.
At a think tank forum on Friday in Berlin, Xi criticised Japan’s wartime actions, saying the Japanese military killed more than 300,000 people in Nanjing in 1937 when it occupied the Chinese city, Jiji Press and Kyodo News reported.
Xi also said more than 35 million Chinese people were killed or injured as Japan waged a war of aggression stemming from its militarism, Kyodo said.
“It is extremely unproductive that a Chinese leader makes such remarks about Japanese history in a third country,” said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary.
He said the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had lodged a protest with the Chinese government on Saturday.
Xi mentioned in Berlin that Japan’s wartime atrocities were still “fresh in our memory”.
“We Chinese have long held the belief that we should not do onto others as we do not wish they do onto us … China needs peace like humans need air and plants need water,” he said.
Xi’s comments directed towards Japan were hardly unexpected and maybe even a bit reserved considering previous reports alleging that China had wanted to highlight WWII and Germany’s handling of its wartime past during the Berlin trip as a way to embarrass Japan.
A diplomat told the Post that Germany had no interest in being dragged into the catfight between the two Asian powers, saying that while Berlin welcomed China’s interest in the country’s past “We do not want to see our approach to history exploited to stir up tensions between Tokyo and Beijing. That is a different matter.”