China-Japan diplomatic row over Yasukuni Shrine enters new phaseUpdated: 2014-01-09 22:24:26 KST
What started out as bickering between China and Japan over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is quickly morphing into a high-level diplomatic war of words.
The shrine is highly controversial as it honors several Class-A war criminals and well as scores of those found guilty of lesser crimes.
Chinese diplomats are using all possible channels to ensure the world knows full well that Abe's visit was unacceptable, while Japanese officials are busy justifying Abe's move whenever they have a chance to sit down with world leaders.
China's ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai, during a press hearing, criticized Abe, saying he should take full responsibility for the deterioration of China-Japan relations, while the ambassador to Canada Zhang Junsai also condemned the visit during an interview with a local media outlet.
Chinese ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming went even further.
In a letter published in Britain's Daily Telegraph, Liu compared Abe's visit to an evil wizard of the Harry Potter series, saying "if militarism is like the haunting Voldemort of Japan, the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest parts of that nation’s soul".
Japan is mounting a strong defense to China's diplomatic offensive.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, during a trip to Europe earlier this week, told his Spanish counterpart, that Abe visited the shrine to console the nation's war dead, as well as to make a pledge that Japan will never trigger a war again.
Although Tokyo's number one ally, the U.S. has already expressed its disappointment, Japanese diplomats are busy attempting to soothe ties with Washington.
Against such a backdrop, Japan's director-nominee of the newly established National Security Council Shotaro Yachi's visit to Washington next week, is gaining more attention than it might have done before.
Experts say China and Japan's row has the potential to become even more emotionally charged,. as the two nations' foreign policies are based on strong nationalism.
And this, they say, would further escalate already heightened tensions in Northeast Asia.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
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