BEIJING, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- China on Tuesday stepped up its criticism of a recent visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a controversial war shrine, calling Tokyo's militaristic past the "darkest demon" of its history.
Relations between China and Japan have never been good because of their shared history and territorial disputes, but their ties have worsened of late due to Abe's Dec. 26 visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan's 14 Class A war criminals from World War II.
"For people and countries in Asia, the militaristic aggression is the darkest demon in the history of Japan," China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily briefing.
"Only by daring to have the courage to defeat and squarely face this historical demon, Japan will really win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community in a true sense," Hua said.
Hua made the remarks in response to some accusations in Japan over an op-ed piece by China's ambassador to Britain that criticized Abe for visiting the shrine by comparing Japan's militarism to Lord Voldemort, the villain of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
In the op-ed published by the Daily Telegraph, the Chinese ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, wrote, "In the Harry Potter story, the dark wizard Voldemort dies because the seven horcruxes, which contain parts of his soul, have been destroyed."
"If militarism is like the haunting Voldemort of Japan, the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest parts of that nation's soul," Liu said.
Abe's visit to the shrine has drawn scathing criticism from South Korea and Japan.
It was the first time in seven years that Japan's sitting prime minister has visited the Yasukuni shrine, which is a reminder for both Koreans and Chinese of Japan's wartime atrocities. Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony in the early part of the 20th century and controlled much of China during World War II.
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