Taro Aso, Japan’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said in a speech during his visit to India on Sunday that for the past 1,500 years, China has never had a history of smooth relations with Japan and India.
“India and China share a border, while Japan and China are connected by the sea, but for the past 1,500 years there has never been a history of extremely smooth relations between our countries and China,” Aso said, as quoted by China-based Huanqiu.
The comments came at a meeting with Indian businesspeople in New Delhi, amid border tensions between India and China, as well as ongoing Sino-Japanese disputes over islands in the East China Sea. Most recently, Aso and other Japanese ministers paid a visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the 2.5 million Japanese soldiers who died in World War II, including convicted war criminals. Visits to the shrine have always been a sore spot for China and South Korea.
“We have to protect our own countries,” Aso said on whether Japan and India should strengthen their defense relations.
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Aso also called for close defense cooperation between Japan, Australia, India, and the United States to ensure regional stability, according to Huanqiu.