BEIJING -- China's state-run media Friday stepped up criticism against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who stopped short of apologizing for Japan's wartime atrocities in a speech to the U.S. Congress.
In the landmark speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Abe expressed "deep remorse" about World War II but failed to issue his own apology demanded by many over the Japanese military's sexual enslavement of Asian women during the war.
The Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, said, "Without offering an apology, Japan lost another chance to mend ties with its neighbors, thus clouding the future in East Asia."
Historians say more than 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude at front-line Japanese brothels during the war. Those wartime sex slaves were euphemistically described by the Japanese military as "comfort women."
Niu Zhongjun, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the state-run Beijing Times newspaper that he was "very disappointed" over the speech of Abe in the U.S.
Earlier this week, the U.S. and Japan announced a set of new defense guidelines that enable Japan to significantly expand its military role in the face of an increasingly assertive China and nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
China has taken a wary eye on the even-tighter military alliance between the U.S. and Japan.
In a commentary, Xinhua said Washington and Tokyo "are heading in a direction misguided by a newly revised defense guideline, which will allow Abe to upgrade Japan's Self-Defense Forces to handle disputes with its neighbors and meddle in regional affairs in a saber-rattling way."