By: ‘Mathabana Kotelo
MASERU — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe completed a three-nation African tour on Monday where he pledged aid for Africa’s development.
Speculation is rife that Abe’s visit to Mozambique, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast is motivated by his desire to form alliances with African and Middle Eastern states and reduce China’s influence in Africa.
The Chinese ambassador to Lesotho Hu Dingxian said China had long standing warm relations with Africa and that Japan’s “moves” can not hamper those good relations.
China’s foreign aid footprints in Africa can be traced as far back as the 1950s with over $75 billion having been spent on development projects in Africa according to reports by BBC and the Guardian.
China has been responsible for infrastructural development across the African continent; installation of solar traffic light in Liberia, construction of the national school of visual Arts in Mozambique and a new parliament building in Lesotho and more recently, construction of an African Union Convention centre in Ethiopia among others.
Hu has cautioned that African states ought to be cautious in forming alliances with a country whose leader still fails to correctly understand, and treat its past aggression nearly 70 years after the war.
The Chinese government and members of the international community have reacted with outrage at Abe’s visit to the Yakusuni Shrine late December last year.
The Yakusuni Shrine in Japan was built to honour among others 14 class A war criminals from the World War II including former Japan Prime Minister Hideki Tojo who was responsible for launching the attack on Pearl Harbour
Abe’s visit to the Yakusuni Shrine caused an outcry from China and East Asian states who were terrorized under Japan’s militarist regime.
China, South Korea, Democratic Republic of Korea and some members of the international community have condemned Abe’s actions as a blatant disregard of the great loss of live and terrorism resulting from Japan’s military past and in contradiction with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.
China state councillor Yang Jiechi has described Abe’s visit to the shrine as “a perverse act and gross trampling upon historical justice and human conscience and an outrageous challenge to the outcomes of the world’s victory in the war against fascism and the post war international order.
The United States and European Union have also publicly expressed disappointment at the Japanese Prime Minister’s actions.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week, Ambassador Hu echoed Yang Jiechi’s stance that Abe‘s actions were an insult to the people of China and East Asia saying “It is a matter of principle, Abe paid homage at a shrine built to honour class A war criminals whose hands are tainted with the blood of many Chinese civilians killed under the Japanese militarist aggression.”
The Yakusuni Shrine is seen as a symbol of Japanese military aggression and according to Dingxian, a reminder of the great atrocity and merciless killing of the Chinese people at the hands of Japanese military.
It is estimated that about 35 million Chinese people were killed during the Japan led World War II and about US$600 billion worth of loss.
“This visit has caused great harm to relation between China and Japan and instability in East-Asia” Hu said.
He further said that the Lesotho has also made her due contributions to the victory of war II by sending the Basotho Regiments with more than 21 000 Basotho fighting side by side with allied forces, among whom more than 1 100 were killed.Hu stressed that their blood should not be shed in vain, adding that there was great need for Japan to correctly understand history and embrace a peaceful future.
“The tragedy of history cannot be repeated, we therefore call upon all peace loving people across the globe to join hands in stopping Abe from reviving militarism in Japan.”
Hu criticised the Japanese Minister for having double standards saying “on the one hand, Abe preaches peace and democracy but on the other hand lobbies for militarism by pushing to change its pacifist constitution and text books to increase the military budget and war capability in Japan.”
For the Japanese leader to have paid homage at the said shrine is, according to Hu, a sign of Japanese leadership’s support of the past military aggression. He said “The verdict of World War II cannot be overturned.
It seems that the Japanese leadership seeks to reverse it. Therefore, all the peace-loving countries and peoples in the world should be on high alert and join hands to stop it.”