CHINA / National

Japan urged to apologize properly for atrocities
Updated: 2006-03-24 11:51

Chairman of a mass-circulated Japanese newspaper Thursday critized Japanese leaders for not having apologized properly for wartime atrocities, the online edition of Financial Times reported.

Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of the Yomiuri newspaper said:"The great blame attaches to Japan for having been involved in a war of invasion," according to FT.

"It is incumbent on Japan to apologise, and it is unfortunate that our apologies in the past have been half-hearted," Watanabe was quoted as saying.

Coming from one of Japan's most conservative newspapers, the statement is a reprimand to figures such as Mr Koizumi and Mr Abe for allowing relations with China to deteriorate so far, said FT.

Ties between the two Asian giants have fallen to a record low because of disputes over a series of issues, including natural resources, territory, history and Japanese leaders' visit to a war shrine.

In spite of protest from China and other Asian countries, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has made repeated visit to Tokyo-based Yasukuni shrine, where 14 Class-A war criminals are honoured alongside millions of war dead.

Koizumi has called the visits a spiritual issue, defending them as a time to pray for peace and express gratitude for those who sacrificed their lives for the country.

But China sees the shrine a symbol of Japan's militarist past and complained bitterly that the trips have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.

China has refused holding top-level meetings with Japan after Koizumi's latest homage to the shrine in October last year.

Koizumi has said he plans to leave office when his term as president of the ruling LDP expires on Sept. 30. His successor as LDP head, to be elected by a party vote, is almost certain to take over as Japan's prime minister.

Some of the leading candidates to succeed him -- including Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe -- are also supporters of visits to Yasukuni Shrine.