New York: The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon , has rejected Japanese criticism of his decision to attend China’s Victory Day parade later this week, saying it was important to recognise China’s wartime sacrifice and learn the lessons of history.

Ban, who will be among about 30 world leaders attending a spectacular military parade in Beijing on Thursday, told Chinese media his presence would be in recognition of China’s “contribution and sacrifice” in the fight against fascism during the second world war.

Ban’s office said he was aware of concern in Japan, which believes the UN should remain neutral on the commemoration of historical events and has voiced “strong displeasure” over his attendance in a message sent through it mission to the UN.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, was quoted by China’s Xinhua news agency as saying: “China’s contribution and sacrifice during the second world war is very much recognised, [and China] is appreciated for all such sufferings, and sympathised [with] by the world’s people.

“It is important to look to the past, what kinds of lessons we have been learning, and how we can move ahead to a brighter future based on the lessons learned. That is the main purpose.”

About 12,000 troops, 500 armoured vehicles, conventional and nuclear weapons and 200 aircraft are expected to take part in the parade in Tiananmen Square, the scene of the government’s bloody suppression of pro-democracy protests in 1989.

Xinhua said about 1,000 foreign troops from 17 other countries would also appear.

Last week Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, abandoned efforts to arrange a bilateral summit with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Beijing just before or after the parade.

Courtesy Guardian