BEIJING — Chinese state media warned Japan yesterday of an escalation in the war of public opinion after both countries compared each other to Lord Voldemort, the villain in the Harry Potter stories, in a tit-for-tat diplomatic spat.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit on Dec 26 to the Yasukuni shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals are enshrined along with other war dead, infuriated China and South Korea and prompted concern from the United States, a key ally. Both China and South Korea suffered under brutal Japanese rule, with parts of China occupied in the 1930s and Korea colonised from 1910 to 1945.
In an op-ed in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, the Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr Liu Xiaoming, wrote last week: “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.” In British author J K Rowling’s bestselling series Harry Potter, the villain Voldemort uses horcruxes to hold bits of his soul and extend his life.
Mr Liu’s commentary was followed by another published on Sunday by his Japanese counterpart, Mr Keiichi Hayashi, in the same newspaper, headlined: “China risks becoming Asia’s Voldemort”.
The Global Times, an influential tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, said: “Japan’s state apparatus has very strong capacity in public opinion warfare. They will mobilise various media forces of their country, create leverage to lever world opinions, their goal to cleverly mask the malignant nature of Mr Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine.”
“We need to make our demands simple and clear, that is, the Japanese Prime Minister cannot visit the war criminals in Yasukuni because it is equivalent to paying homage to criminals like (Adolf) Hitler and (Joseph) Goebbels,” the newspaper said, referring to the leaders of Nazi Germany. REUTERS