AP/Fox 'reports' below.
Hard to believe they failed to note that the
comments are unnerving to China that they will
probably increase their military spending.
Reports: Japan's outspoken prime minister uses questionable language
6.17 p.m. ET (2332 GMT) January 10, 2001
TOKYO (AP) —
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's reputation for political incorrectness was reinforced Wednesday when Japanese news media reported that he used language offensive to nations overrun by Japan during World War II.
While addressing Japanese residents in Johannesburg during the first-ever trip by a Japanese prime minister to South Africa, Mori referred to Japan's struggle to subjugate China during the 1930s as the "Shina incident'' and called the Pacific War the "Greater East Asia War,'' national broadcaster NHK and other media reported.
Both terms were used by Japan's military leaders until 1945, and were struck from textbooks afterward because of their association with the expansionist policies of that era. Many Chinese consider "Shina'' to be pejorative.
The "Greater East Asia War'' was named after the "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere,'' a phrase used by Japanese propagandists to describe the nation's colonial empire in Asia.
In Tokyo on Wednesday, Mori's top aide told a news conference that the prime minister's choice of words "didn't have any particular significance.''
"Prime Minister Mori was born before the war and received his education during that period,'' Kyodo News agency quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda as saying.
Mori's controversial comments have been blamed for dragging down his government's approval ratings to a near-record low.
Shortly after taking office, he touched off a political firestorm when he called Japan a "divine nation centered on the emperor'' in a speech to Shinto religious officials.
Critics said Mori's language was a throwback to Japan's wartime ideology, when Japanese soldiers invaded other Asian nations in the name of an emperor who was elevated to the status of a living god.