Olympics: Congrats for Tokyo from Chinese committee but not from Beijing

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan has received a raft of messages on its successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics but a goodwill message from China has been conspicuously absent, the government said on Tuesday.

The United States, South Korea and many other Asia-Pacific nations have offered congratulations to Japan since the International Olympic Committee on Saturday chose Tokyo to host the summer Games over Istanbul and Madrid.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, however, noted on Tuesday that no official message from Beijing had been forthcoming.

"I am sure that, as a matter of course, (China) welcomes our hosting of the Olympics, which is a sports festival," he said, stressing that Tokyo supported Beijing when the Chinese capital hosted the 2008 Olympics.

The two countries have been at loggerheads over the last year about the sovereignty of a small group of islands in the East China Sea.

They also have regular disputes over interpretations of their sometimes-brutal shared history, which Beijing says Tokyo does not fully acknowledge and which Tokyo says Beijing dwells on.

On Monday, China's Global Times offered Tokyo heavily qualified congratulations for winning the right to host the 2020 Olympics, saying the event's success would depend on Japan recognising its World War II aggression.

"Japan should learn how to behave," the Chinese newspaper said in an editorial that focused mostly on Beijing's longstanding diplomatic rivalry with Tokyo.

The paper lamented Japan's "lousy job in reflecting its misdeeds in World War II", specifically pointing to visits by senior figures to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, where the country's war dead - including high-ranking war criminals - are enshrined.

If visits continued, the editorial said, the world would reconsider whether "a country which has been paying high tribute to brutal war criminals for years is qualified to host such an event that advocates peace and harmony".

China's Foreign Ministry side-stepped questions at a regular press briefing on Monday on whether it would congratulate Tokyo on its winning bid.

"You can ask the Chinese Olympic Committee this question," said spokesman Hong Lei.

The ministry later quoted him on its website as saying the Chinese Olympic Committee had congratulated Tokyo, without giving further details.