Koizumi voices apology for Japan's wartime record
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi voiced an apology on April 22 for
Japan's wartime record, speaking at an Asia-Africa summit in
"Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility. And with feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power," he said.
Koizumi, who hoped to meet Hu during the summit, added that his country was guided by the "principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse to use of force."
Sino-Japanese relations were at one of their lowest ebbs in decades after three weekends of protests by tens of thousands in China against Japan's approval of a school textbook that critics say whitewashes Japan's wartime atrocities.
In those demonstrations, people hurled bottles, eggs and rocks at Japan's diplomatic and business interests in China while calling for the boycott of Japanese products.
Tokyo has demanded Beijing's apology and compensation for damage caused by the protests but China rejected Japan's demands, saying the real issue was Japan's alleged denial of its wartime past.
Japan's post-war constitution, written by the United States, not only renounces war but forbids Tokyo from maintaining a military or even threatening the use of force.
However, Japan maintains what it calls a Self-Defense Forces and Koizumi, a staunch ally of US President Gerge W. Bush, dispatched 600 Self-Defense troops on a non-combat mission in southern Iraq
The deployment which began in December 2003 is Japan's first since World War II in a country where fighting is under way.
But Koizumi has enraged China with his annual visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which venerates 2.5 million war dead including major war criminals.
Since taking office in April 2001, the prime minister never missed the annual pilgrimage to the shrine, which China says is the core problem to a normal Sino-Japanese relations.
China hasní»t invited Koizumi to visit Beijing since his coming into office.