Japan criticized a memorial built in China honoring a Korean assassin who killed a Japanese official over a century ago, striking another blow to already frayed relations in the region.

The Sino-Korean memorial for Ahn Jung-geun, who in 1909 shot dead Hirobumi Ito, a top official in Japanese-occupied Korea, opened in the Chinese city of Harbin, the site where the assassination took place.

Ahn was convicted and executed in 1910, and celebrated as a hero in Korea.

Speaking at a news conference, Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan would protest the move through diplomatic channels.

“The coordinated move by China and Korea based on a one-sided view of history is not conducive to building peace and stability” in East Asia, Suga said.

“The move is truly regrettable as we had made our stance and our concerns clear to the Chinese and Korean governments.”

China said Ahn was a “famous anti-Japanese high-minded person” and building a memorial to commemorate his “courageous act” was only proper.

“We cannot accept this so-called protest,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. “We demand Japan earnestly face up to history and reflect on it.”

South Korea’s foreign ministry said it hoped the museum would “set the path for genuine peace and cooperation based on correct historical awareness.”

Both China and South Korea have accused Japan of failing to own up its brutal occupation of parts of the country and what it sees as the whitewashing of history in school textbooks.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: simbiosisgroup