China’s insular military will invite foreign armed forces to take part in a lavish parade in Beijing this autumn marking the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in the second world war.
A defence ministry spokesman, Geng Yansheng, said foreign government and military leaders would be invited as observers and members of their armed forces would be welcome to march in the parade.
The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had been invited, the South China Morning Post reported. However, he was reluctant to accept, according to government sources in Tokyo, as it would signal Japan’s submission to its former enemy.
Geng’s comments were the ministry’s first official remarks on the long-anticipated event. He said the parade was not to celebrate the victory but to commemorate victims of the conflict, which China refers to as “the Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese aggression”.
“Through the military parade, China hopes to demonstrate our firm stance, join hands with the rest of the world, safeguard the victorious outcome of the second world war, maintain world peace and stability, and create a better future for mankind,” Geng said at a monthly news conference.
He said the parade would take place on or around the 2 September anniversary of Japan’s formal surrender. Invitations would go out to countries that fought in the conflict as well as to some with no direct connection, Geng said, without mentioning individual nations by name.