Japan told to clear obstacles before ruling party election
Updated: 2006-09-19 21:23

BEIJING -- China on Tuesday urged the Japanese government to "remove obstacles" to bilateral ties on the eve of Japan's ruling party election.

"China hopes the Japanese government will honor its commitments and remove obstacles to bilateral ties as soon as possible," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

His comments came ahead of the leadership election for Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

"Japanese leaders should make political decisions and take actions to show their regret and apologies for wartime aggressions," Qin said.

Sino-Japanese relations have been soured by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war dead, including 14 class A Second World War criminals, are honored.

Koizumi's last shrine visit on August 15, the 61st anniversary of his country's surrender, further damaged relations.

Koizumi is set to step down in September. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the leading prime ministerial candidate, has defended Koizumi's pilgrimages to the shrine and refused to say whether or not he would visit the shrine as prime minister.

Qin said China had maintained a "clear and consistent" attitude on China-Japan relations, including the Yasukuni Shrine and other historic issues.

The Chinese government demanded Japan should correctly view and handle the history issue, Qin said. "This will not only help Japan mend ties with neighbors, but also enhance Japan's international profile."