|Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers his opening address at the 14th Asia Security Summit at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue 2015 in Singapore yesterday. — AFP/VNA Photo
SINGAPORE (VNS) — Asian countries led by China and Japan should put World War II behind them to promote regional trust and cooperation, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
Lee, in a keynote speech opening an annual security conference known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, said that 70 years after the war ended it "continues to cast a shadow over relations between the old adversaries, in particular between Japan and its neighbours, China and Korea."
"It is past the time to put this history behind us properly, like the Europeans have done," Lee said at the forum attended by defence ministers and senior military officers from the United States, Europe and the Asia-Pacific.
China is represented at the three-day meeting by Admiral Sun Jianguo, the deputy chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army, while Japan and South Korea both sent their defence ministers.
Japanese defence chief Gen Nakatani will hold talks with his South Korean counterpart Han Min-koo on the sidelines of the talks, Seoul said last week.
In his speech, Singapore's Lee urged Japan and the two East Asian neighbours it had either colonised or occupied to display "statesmanship and largeness of spirit" in dealing with each other.
"Japan needs to acknowledge past wrongs, and Japanese public opinion needs to be more forthright in rejecting the more outrageous interpretations of history by its right-wing academics and politicians," Lee said.
"At the same time, Japan's neighbours need to accept Japan's acknowledgements, and not demand that Japan apologise over and over again," the premier added.
"The history of the war should not be used to put Japan on the defensive, or to perpetuate enmities into future generations."
Lee's comments come amid lingering animosities over territorial and historical disputes with roots in Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-1945 and occupation of China before and during World War II.
The Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh on the same day held bilateral meetings with delegations from China, Israel, the Philippines and Singapore, on the sidelines of the 14th Shangri-la Dialogue.
At the meetings, Sen Lt Gen Vinh spoke highly of the results of defence co-operation between Viet Nam and the four countries.
Vietnamese delegates and their counterparts compared notes on issues of common concern, while discussing measures to strengthen bilateral defence ties in the coming time.
The measures included enhancing all-level delegation exchange; forging links in training, the provision of humanitarian support and emergency aid, and search and rescue operation; and stepping up dialogues on defence policy.
The Shangri-la dialogue is annually organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
This year's event gathers nearly 20 senior defence officers from Asian-Pacific countries, who plan to discuss measures to address differences in order to ensure security and stability in the region. — AFP/VNS