China steps up attacks on Japan PM Abe

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - China returned to the offensive Wednesday over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a contested war shrine warning the UN Security Council that such acts threaten peace.

China's UN ambassador Liu Jieyi seized upon a council debate on the lessons of conflict to slam Abe for going to the Yasukuni shrine which honors war criminals among the country's war dead.

Attempts to change history "destabilize regional peace and pose a serious challenge to the peaceful course of mankind," Mr Liu said as he embarked on the new diplomatic assault.

Mr Abe "paid hommage to those who launched a war of aggression and were up their elbows in the blood of the people in the countries they invaded," said the Chinese envoy.

China has repeatedly condemned Mr Abe for the December 26 visit to the shrine which has also been criticized by other Asian nations and by the United States, a key ally of Japan.

The shrine honors 2.5 million war dead including 14 war criminals found guilty over Japan's invasion of other nations in World War II.

Other countries see the shrine as a symbol of Japan's refusal to come to terms with its wartime past. But Japan is also involved in a tense territorial dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea.

Mr Abe has in turn criticized what he calls China's increasing military assertiveness.

"Abe's hommage to those fascist war criminals is nothing less than a challenge to the victorious outcome of the war against fascism," said China's UN ambassador, vowing opposition by his country.

"Abe is trying to reverse the verdict on the war and defend war criminals.

This will never be accepted by people with conscience nor by countries which uphold justice," he added.

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