NICOSIA, Jan. 27 -- Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus Liu Xinsheng, in an article published here, has criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a war shrine in Tokyo last December.
In the article published in Cyprus' leading English-language newspaper Cyprus Mail on Sunday, Liu said history should not be forgotten.
Despite the enormous atrocities inflicted by Japanese aggressors, the Asians, very much like the Cypriots, are warm, open and always ready to forgive when the perpetrators are willing to repent, said the article titled "To Forgive Does Not Mean To Forget."
People believe that the convicted war criminals, not the ordinary Japanese people, were to blame, the article said. That explains why for all the atrocities committed by the Japanese aggressor troops, when the war was over, its Asian neighbors did not ask for a penny in war indemnities and were determined to work with the Japanese people to rebuild the shared neighborhood.
"That also explains why people in the Asia-Pacific found it reassuring when then Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said in 1995 that Japan followed a mistaken national policy and caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations through its colonial rule and aggression and recognized these facts as irrefutable," it added.
The article emphasized that a right-wing Japanese nationalist leader dares to challenge the remorseful statement of Murayama by disputing the nature of the war and by denying the hard facts.
This leader did it not because he wants to open dialogue with the leadership of Japan's neighbors, it said. He did it only to serve a clear political purpose. He wants to whitewash Japan's records of aggression and atrocities and push for his nationalist agenda.
Stressing "to forgive does not mean to forget," the article noted that aggression is aggression, a crime is a crime, and a war criminal is a war criminal.
Peace, which has been hard-won in East Asia after the war, can never be taken for granted, the article said. Japan's militarism was the curse of Asia in the first half of the 20th century. No one would like to see that happen again in the first half of this century.
History must be respected, facts must be respected, and human conscience must be respected, not those war criminals, it said.
The article said that the past should not stand in the way of the future. But forgetting the past without basic human values would be tantamount to forgetting the millions of lives sacrificed for the very peace and prosperity we enjoy today and would run the risk of seeing the horrors of the past all over again.
Abe's visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine last December, where 14 Japanese Class-A World War II criminals are honored, sparked protests from China and South Korea, as well as international criticism. The visit caused further deterioration in Japan's relations with China and South Korea.