UN chief's China parade trip upsets Japan

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon  (centre) flanked by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (centre left) during a press conference at the UN offices in Geneva at the opening of Yemen peace talks.
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon (centre) flanked by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (centre left) during a press conference at the UN offices in Geneva at the opening of Yemen peace talks.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO • Tokyo said it has complained to the United Nations over Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon's plan to attend a huge military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.

Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga yesterday called on the UN to be "neutral", after Tokyo issued a complaint to the 193-member body last Friday. "We want to encourage member countries to look to the future and not to unnecessarily focus on particular events in the past," he told a press briefing.

The display planned for Thursday, a show of strength that comes as China takes a more assertive stance regionally, will see 12,000 soldiers and 500 pieces of hardware roll through Tiananmen Square, with almost 200 aircraft flying overhead.

Chinese officials listed two dozen heads of state and government as attending, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korea's Park Geun Hye and South Africa's Jacob Zuma among the most prominent.

Mr Ban is also on the list, while Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, are staying away. Tokyo previously said Mr Abe had decided to put off a visit to China around the time of the parade owing to opposition at home over his controversial bid to expand the role of Japan's military.

But local media said the government was concerned about the anti-Japanese nature of the display.

Mr Abe had previously expressed a desire to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping early this month, but the talks had not been confirmed.

In a reaction to Tokyo's complaint over Mr Ban's visit, the China Daily newspaper said in an editorial yesterday: "Such an open display of displeasure is against diplomatic etiquette, not to mention that Japan's concerns are ill-grounded as well as unreasonable."

Former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, who issued a landmark apology for the war in 1995, will be present at the commemorations in a personal capacity.

Former Philippine president Joseph Estrada will also attend the parade despite the territorial tensions between Manila and Beijing, his spokesman said yesterday. He will attend in his capacity as Mayor of Manila and not as a representative of the national government.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'UN chief's China parade trip upsets Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe