Japan 'dumbfounded' by ex-PM's Diaoyu remarks

2013-06-26 05:31:45 GMT2013-06-26 13:31:45(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Japan’s top government spokesman on Wednesday declared himself "dumbfounded" after former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he understood China’s claim to islands at the center of a bitter row between Tokyo and Beijing.

Hatoyama told Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television it was “unavoidable” that China believed Japan stole the Diaoyu islands.

During the interview, which was broadcast in China on Tuesday, Hatoyama said: “It is unavoidable that the Chinese side thinks Japan stole” the islands.

As a media storm gathered, he told Japanese reporters later in the day that he had meant to say there was “a possibility” that China might think that way.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Hatoyama’s comments were “outrageous”.

“I was completely at a loss for words when I heard about his remarks. It was literally jaw-dropping,” he told a news conference on Tuesday. “It is outrageous and unforgivable that a former prime minister before has said things that hurt our national interests.”

Hatoyama, who led the now-opposition Democratic Party of Japan and served as prime minister between September 2009 and June 2010, has left politics, but as heir to the Bridgestone tire empire, remains active in business circles.

Earlier this year, his visit to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial caused consternation in Japan when he said he felt “responsibility” for the outrage.


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