Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided not to travel to Beijing next month for its much-hyped military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Speaking with reporters in Tokyo, Chief Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed that Abe won’t make an appearance at the event on September 3, nor will he be making visits in the days before or after the parade—squashing any glimmer of hope that meetings between Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Korean President Park Geun Hye could help cool tensions on the date.
Other recent reports from Japanese media, however, have claimed that Abe will make a trip to visit Xi next week.
Political pundits have nonetheless suggested that his absence at the event, where children may or may not be playing this game, will not likely affect relations between the two Asian nations.
Mr Abe decided to skip the visit because of his parliamentary schedule, Mr Suga said, referring to debates over controversial legislation to expand the role of the military. Earlier this month, Mr Abe told public broadcaster NHK that he would only attend commemorative events that were conciliatory and not “anti- Japanese.”
“The issues between Japan and China are too deep to be resolved by a short summit meeting,” said Robert Dujarric, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus. “Giving up on a visit to Beijing won’t have a serious impact and they will have opportunities to meet in other settings.”
Abe will miss out on the company of representatives from more than 10 countries, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Mongolia’s Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic and Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who will gather to watch fighter jets and missiles zoom across the “Victory Day Blue” Beijing sky in honor of the “War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression”.
Areas of Beijing were completely shut down over the weekend to carry out large-scale rehearsals for what is apparently going to be a very colorful affair.