Tensions between China and Japan over East China Sea islands and issues related to wartime history have made their presence felt half the world away, in the on-going World Economic Forum meet in Davos, where top leaders from both countries have traded barbs over recent disputes.

Earler this week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is currently in India on a three-day visit, told journalists in Davos that the current situation between China and Japan was similar to relations between Britain and Germany before the First World War.

His suggestion was that close economic links between China and Japan may not be reason enough to avert military tensions.

Mr. Abe in a speech also alluded to the threat posed to the region by China’s growing military strength, saying the world needed to “restrain military expansion in Asia, which could otherwise go unchecked.”


On Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded to Mr. Abe’s comments, saying the First World War reference was “anachronistic.”

He also hit out at the Japanese Prime Minister over his stance on wartime history. Mr. Abe angered China and Japan by becoming the first Japanese leader in seven years to pay tribute at the Yasukuni shrine, a memorial for Japanese civilian war dead that also enshrines 14 Class-A war criminals, responsible for atrocities committed under Japanese occupation during the Second World War.

“Reviewing these episodes of history would clearly show who was the instigator of war and the troublemaker,” Mr. Wang was quoted as saying in agency reports.

“When a Japanese leader lays a wreath at such a shrine, he crosses a line… [and] contesting the outcome of the second world war and the international order that emerged from it.”

Compared to Nazis

Mr. Wang even drew a parallel between the Class-A war criminals and Nazis.

“Could you imagine a European leader laying a wreath at a memorial to Nazi war criminals?” he said. “Would the European people accept such a move?”

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