BEIJING — China will welcome all national leaders to a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, the foreign minister said on Sunday, the strongest sign yet that it could invite wartime enemy Japan.
Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and it rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this.
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The remarks by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi come as the two countries plan to hold their first security talks in four years in Tokyo on March 19, an indication of a possible improvement in strained ties. "Our goal is to remember history, commemorate the martyrs, cherish peace and look to the future," Wang said of the parade at a briefing on the sidelines of China's annual meeting of parliament.
"We will extend the invitation to the leaders of all relevant countries and international organizations. No matter who it is, as long as they come in sincerity, we welcome them," Wang said in response to a question about whether Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be invited.
China's foreign ministry previously had said only that it would invite major participants in the war and other countries in the region to the parade.
Wang said Japan needed to check its conscience about its wartime history. "Seventy years ago Japan lost the war. Seventy years later, Japan should not lose its conscience. Will it continue to carry the baggage of history or will it make a clean break with past aggression?" he said.