TOKYO // As if Harry Potter is not popular enough, the evil Lord Voldemort from British author JK Rowling’s best-selling children’s series has been dragged into the feud between Japan and China over the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo.
China and South Korea say the shrine, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited recently, glorifies Japan’s militaristic past.
Writing in The Telegraph last week, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, said: “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.”
A horcrux contains part of Voldemort’s soul, and all seven horcruxes must be destroyed to kill him.
In response, Japanese Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi wrote in the same newspaper that fears of rising militarism in Japan are unfounded given the country’s postwar record of commitment to peace.
Instead, Mr Hayashi said that China risks playing “the role of Voldemort in the region by letting loose the evil of an arms race and escalation of tensions”.
Asia’s two biggest economies have long endured a difficult relationship characterised by disagreements on a wide range of issues, many of which are connected to bitter memories of violence in Asia by Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.
But ties have soured since Tokyo bought a set of disputed islands in the East China Sea in 2012, fuelling nationalism in both nations that has seen paramilitary ships and planes from both sides involved in regular standoffs around the isles.
Associated Press with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse