That was not to be. What is more, top party officials in China are said to be dissatisfied with what Abe said in his statement; they just don't want to air their gr
In mid-August, some Chinese government officials met to discuss security for the 70th anniversary ceremony. They later briefed embassy officials of countries whose head of state may attend the event. Japanese embassy officials were not invited to the briefing.
On the night of Sept. 3, Masato Kitera, Japan's ambassador to China, was glued to a TV screen. He was watching a stage performance at the evening gala that concluded the anniversary activities. Before the eyes of the leaders from various countries, a number of Chinese female performers covered in blood rose up with a look of resentment on their faces. It was a reminder of what China calls the Nanking Massacre. The numeral "300,000" emerged behind these performers, indicating the number of victims the Chinese government says were killed.
None of the delegates had known what to expect. If Abe had paid a visit, he would have witnessed the performance. The unexpected arrangement took the Japanese embassy staff by surprise; some were relieved that Abe decided not to go to Beijing for the anniversary events.
China will continue to use the history issue as a bargaining chip against Japan. It is also using territorial issues in much the same manner. Chinese vessels continue to violate Japan's territorial waters in the East China Sea near the Senkaku Islands, also claimed by China.
China has also recently detained a few Japanese men, alleging they are spies.
All these moves are aimed at pressuring Japan.
In late September, Abe and Xi attended a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York but failed to even have a chat before leaving the U.S.
For his part, Xi is trying to seek cooperative ties with Japan while fending off pressure from anti-Japan forces inside the party. It is a delicate balancing act.
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers an emphatic speech in Beijing ahead of a military parade in early September.
Xi has been seeking to further consolidate his power within the party, but there is only so much he can do to keep the party's anti-Japan forces in check.
This summer, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other party elders repeatedly received several pages-long documents. These papers were sent by Xi as part of his efforts to gain the elders' stamp of approval.
The papers included the text of a speech Xi was to deliver on Sept. 3 in Beijing's Tiananmen Square before a military parade marking China's victory in its resistance war against Japanese aggression.
The speech concluded with, "Justice will prevail! Peace will prevail! The people will prevail!"
He mentioned Japanese militarism twice in the speech, signaling that Beijing distinguishes between today's government and that of wartime Japan.
"The speech included scathing criticism of Japan at one point," a party official familiar the matter said. "But that was deleted after a complicated process of internal coordination." In fact, it was Xi who made that decision.
Similarly, Beijing reacted in a low-key way to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's 70th anniversary statement on Aug. 14. While Chinese media lashed out at Abe for not offering a direct apology, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs refrained from explicitly assessing the statement.
This restrained reaction seemed to reflect Xi's intentions to build and keep better relations with Japan. There were even growing expectations that Abe would visit China in September.
That was not to be. What is more, top party officials in China are said to be dissatisfied with what Abe said in his statement; they just don't want to air their grievances publicly. Nikkei News