[TOKYO] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not attend events to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in China next month, partly because of concerns over China's military expansion, domestic media reported on Monday.
Mr Abe has decided not to attend in order to focus on collective self defence bills currently being debated in parliament, national broadcaster NHK said.
He also decided to side with Western countries who are not attending events in China because of worries about its military expansion in the region, the Sankei newspaper reported.
China will hold a military parade on Sept 3 to cap off the commemoration of what its state media call the "Victory of the Chinese people's war against Japanese aggression".
Sino-Japan relations have long been affected by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war. Western and Chinese historians estimate millions of Chinese civilians were killed.
Ties have thawed slightly since Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at multilateral gatherings in April and last November, but the diplomatic relationship between Asia's two biggest economic powers is far from friendly.