Japanese ex-PM Hatoyama prays for forgiveness at Nanjing


Senior Member
Dec 20, 2012
Hatoyama in China | Photos | Kyodo News

Former Japanese PM prays at Nanjing memorial - Globaltimes.cn

Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama on Thursday offered a silent prayer at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, which is dedicated to victims of a mass killing by the Japanese army during World War II.

The gesture won instant praise from the Chinese public, but his comments that territorial disputes do exist over the Diaoyu Islands were rebuffed by the Japanese government as "opposite to Japan's position."

"I apologize for the crimes that Japanese soldiers committed during wartime and I sincerely hope this tragedy will not repeat," Hatoyama said during his visit to the memorial in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, where 300,000 Chinese people are believed to have been killed during Japanese occupation. Hatoyama is the third former Japanese prime minister to visit the memorial hall in Nanjing after Toshiki Kaifu and Tomiichi Murayama.

At a time when China-Japan relations are locked in a simmering territorial row, Hatoyama's stance provided a change of tone, though some have cautioned that it's only a private visit that does not represent the Japanese government.

Chinese people will only take the olive branch if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "acts the same as Hatoyama," one Weibo user wrote.

In a meeting with Chinese officials on Wednesday, Hatoyama said, "there is a dispute" between Japan and China over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

The remarks are "clearly opposite to Japan's position," Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday, according to the Kyodo News Agency. "It is extremely regrettable that a person who served as premier made such comments."
Glad to see that there are still diplomatically-inclined members of the Japanese establishment around. Still, it's unfortunate that Hatoyama did not do this while an active Prime Minister. If Abe can do a similar gesture and backpedal on the Diaoyu Islands dispute, it would go a long way toward resolving the current impasse in Sino-Japanese relations.

Such a move would not be out of the ordinary for a head of government. It's what German chancellor Willy Brandt did in Poland, after all.


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