BEIJING, Aug. 15 -- At least two Japanese cabinet ministers paid their respects at Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of the country's past militarism, as the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II came on Thursday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself shied away from the notorious shrine, but he decided Wednesday to offer a sacrifice. His nod to the ministers' visits and their recent provocative remarks signals that the current Japanese government has gone too far on the right-leaning road, raising fears among Japan's neighbors about a dangerous revival of its militarist past.
The Abe administration has made no secret that the pacifist clause of the Constitution, a crucial pillar of Japan's post-war political arrangements, is an impediment to his ambition of bolstering military power.
Japan has seen the rise of defense expenditure for the first time in a decade in the name of improving "self-defense" capabilities.
The Japanese government, despite unequivocal opposition from China, moved ahead last year with its plan to "purchase" some of the Diaoyu Islands, an integral part of Chinese territories, igniting a fierce maritime dispute with Beijing.
Japanese government officials, while claiming they are willing to have direct talks with their Chinese counterparts, continue to infuriate China with irresponsible attitudes toward history and provocative words, escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
China is committed to using peaceful means and negotiations to settle maritime disagreements, but is also ready to protect its territorial rights and safeguard stability in the region.
The irresponsible words and acts of some Japanese right-leaning politicians have taken a heavy toll on the country's relations with its neighbors, seriously dented its credibility and tarnished the country's image.
On this special day, Japan must reflect upon its history of aggression, sincerely apologize to the victims of its militarist past, and thus work to secure a peaceful future for the country itself and the region at large.