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Abe's speech at Davos draws criticism

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is under fire again after comparing his country's tense relations with China, with those of Germany and Britain before World War One. Abe's historical reference has drawn criticism from both China and South Korea.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said China and Japan were in a "similar situation" to Britain and Germany before 1914, but conflict erupted between the two countries despite strong economic ties. He said both China and Japan should take lessons from that.

In response to Abe's latest words, China's Foreign Ministry again urged Shinzo Abe to face up to history and rectify his understanding of history.

"The Japanese leader should have a correct understanding of history. It would be better to face up to what Japan did to China before World War One and in contemporary history than to say stuff about pre-World War One British-German relations. Japan should learn from its history of agrression and colonial rule, and keep in mind the great sufferings its facist war had inflicted on the peoples of victimized countries," said Qin Gang, Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The spokesman has also criticised Abe for defending his controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where convicted war criminals are enshrined.

Qin says Abe's visit was aimed at overturning the just verdict on Japan's wartime crimes and to beautify the country's history of foreign aggression.

Abe's remarks have also come under fire from South Korea. The country's foreign ministry said on Thursday that ending visits to the shrine should be the first step at defusing tensions between the two countries.

"Japanese political leaders, including the prime minister, should not pay their respects at the Yasukuni Shrine. I emphasize once again that this is the starting point for improvements in South Korea-Japan relations, and security in the region," said Cho Tai-Young, Spokesman of South Korean Foreign Ministry.

Abe is reported to have claimed several times that convicted class-A war criminals enshrined at the Yasukuni Shrine were not criminals in Japan. He said he deeply regretted not having visited the Shrine during his first term as Prime Minister.

His visit to the shrine last December came under great criticism from neighbouring counties. The visit has further exacerbated Japan's relations with China and its regional neighbors.

[Source: Xinhua, CNTV, Beijing, 24Jan14]

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