Japanese officials are waging protests over an advertisement published in a Chinese newspaper that shows a map of Japan with mushroom clouds looming over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a move that only further stirs tensions between the countries.
The Chongqing Youth Daily, a newspaper connected to the city's Communist Youth League, ran the map on July 3 in a full-page ad last week that read, “Japan wants a war again.”
The full-page advertisement featured a map of Japan, with the cities of Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki called out. Tokyo's location was designated by a red dot, while the other two cities — sites of nuclear bomb attacks at the end of World War II — were marked with a fiery explosion and a billowing mushroom cloud.
Raising eyebrows even further, the ad appeared next to an article that stated, "As the butcher of World War Two, the blood on Japan's hands has yet to dry." (There has been some debate over whether the map was actually an ad or an image meant to complement the piece.)
Not surprisingly, Japanese officials are pretty unhappy about the image. According to the Independent, Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he was “lodging a stern protest.” He called on the country’s consulate-general in Chongqing to protest as well.
“As the foreign minister of the only country that has suffered an atomic bomb attack, and being a politician from Hiroshima, I cannot tolerate this,” Kishida said. "Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe has clearly said it would be absolutely impossible for Japan to wage war again. There is no shift in the path of Japan as a pacifist country."
This week's mushroom cloud controversy follows Japan's July 1 reinterpretation of its constitution that allows the country to send soldiers to assist its allies, which caused concern among its neighbors. The Chongqing Youth Daily published an angry comment on this development, saying China was “too tolerant” of its neighbor.
On Wednesday, Japan maintained its protest against both China and Chongqing, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga classified the newspaper’s actions as “extremely imprudent.”
While he declined to address the map controversy, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei reportedly commented on concerns over recent actions coming out of Japan. "We hope Japan can learn lessons from history, go down the path of peaceful development, and avoid the repetition of historical tragedies,” he said.
Japan occupied China from 1931 until the end of WWII. Between 10 million and 20 million Chinese civilians died during that period.
In December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a controversial WWII shrine that includes names of officials convicted of war crimes. According to the South China Morning Post, China's President Xi Jinping commemorated the 77th anniversary of the start of the 1937 war with Japan on Monday, where he criticized those who “ignore the iron facts of history.”
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Image via Wikimedia Commons