Hitchens told a conference hosted by the Research Institute of Japan that the British government “would be worried by actions which heightened regional instability.” The ambassador indirectly asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to visit the war-related Yasukuni Shrine again, Japan’s Jiji Press reported.
When talking about Japan’s historical problem, the British diplomat said the best way for a nation to correct historical mistakes is to admit its own errors.
Hitchens also stressed the importance of holding meetings of Asian leaders, as well as increasing private sector exchanges.
Even if Japan cannot build perfect relations with its neighbors right away, the country should make preparations for a good opportunity in the future, Hitchens said, calling for mechanisms to nurture trust between Japan and its neighbors.
Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine that honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals along with Japan’s war dead on Dec. 26 last year. It is the first time in seven years that a sitting Japanese prime minister visited the controversial shrine.
The move triggered strong criticism from neighboring countries that suffered tremendously under Japan’s brutal aggression and colonial rule during the first half of the 20th century.