China and South Korea on Tuesday criticized Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s comments on comfort women.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it saw the comments as further evidence of a rightward drift in Japanese politics under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We are appalled and indignant about the Japanese politician’s comments boldly challenging humanity and historical justice,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily media briefing. “The way they treat the past will determine the way Japan walks toward the future. On what choice Japan will make, the Asian neighbors and the international community will wait and see.”
Asked about a photo of Abe posing in a fighter jet with the number 731 — the number of a notorious, secret Japanese unit that performed chemical and biological experiments on Chinese in World War II — Hong again urged Japan not to whitewash history so as to improve relations with countries that suffered under Japanese occupation.
“There is a mountain of definitive iron-hard evidence for the crimes they committed in the Second World War. We hope Japan will face and contemplate their history of aggression and treat it correctly,” Hong said.
Abe posed, thumbs up, in the aircraft during a weekend visit to Miyagi Prefecture.
Meanwhile, in Seoul, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment over what it called a senior Japanese official’s serious lack of historical understanding and respect for women’s rights. It asked Japan’s leaders to reflect on their country’s imperial past, including grave human rights violations, and correct anachronistic historical views.