BEIJING, Jan. 23 -- China on Thursday dismissed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for talks with Chinese leaders, arguing that it is insincere.
"We have repeatedly stated our position on this. The Japanese leader should not dream of having empty talks while refusing to acknowledge his mistakes and continuing to make negative remarks on China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press briefing.
He said China's leaders are very busy, and prefer to dedicate time to things that are more meaningful and useful.
"It is Abe himself who shuts the door for dialogue with China," said the spokesman, adding that the Japanese side should admit its errors, move onto a new path and improve relations with China with real actions.
In December, Abe visited Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese Class-A World War II criminals are honored, sparking protests from China, the Republic of Korea(ROK), as well as international criticism. The visit caused further deterioration in Japan's relations with China and the ROK.
In an effort to justify the episode, Abe told the Davos forum on Wednesday that his "praying for the souls of the departed" should be regarded as "quite natural for a leader of any country in the world."
Qin, however, slammed Abe's words by calling on the leader to put himself in the shoes of the victimized people.
"If the Japanese leader was the descendant of the victims of WWII, or of the people forced to be wartime laborers and sex slaves, or of victims of bacteriological tests conducted by Japan's No. 731 unit on live humans in China from the 1930s throughout WWII, would he still visit the Yasukuni Shrine?" Qin heckled.
The spokesman said the shrine was once a spiritual tool and symbol of Japanese militarism, and the nature of Abe's move is to glorify the aggression and challenge the post-WWII international order.
China took note that there were five of six major newspapers in Japan voicing opposition to Abe's move, said Qin, who asked, "How can Abe win the trust of Japan's neighbors and the world if local papers do not even believe in him?"
He asked Japan to face up to history and draw lessons from it.
Qin also called on Abe to uphold a speech by former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama in which he stated that Japan, through colonial rule and aggression, had caused great damage and suffering to people of many countries, particularly in Asia, and that no such mistake should be made in the future.