Japanese minister raps China over shrine
Updated: 2005-11-27 14:07
Japan's foreign minister criticized China and South Korea for protesting
against Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo shrine for
the war dead, media reports said on Sunday.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi arrives at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo Monday, Oct. 17, 2005.
Reports quoted Foreign Minister
Taro Aso as also saying that Japan should not worry about how it is viewed by
other countries or whether it has become isolated.
"The only countries in the world that talk about Yasukuni are China and South
Korea," financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) quoted Aso as saying,
referring to the Yasukuni shrine, which honors some convicted war criminals
including wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo along with Japan's war dead.
"We don't have to worry about whether Japan is isolated or is not being
liked," Aso said in a speech on Saturday, Nikkei added.
The 65-year-old Aso is an outspoken member of the ruling party's conservative
camp known for his plain-talking ways, and has landed himself in hot water over
remarks regarding Japan's past record in Asia.
In May 2003, Aso caused an uproar in South Korea after he made comments that
were interpreted as an attempt to justify some of the actions Japan imposed on
the Koreans during its 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula.
Japan forced Koreans to change their names to Japanese ones during the time,
but Aso said that the measure initially began when some Koreans had asked for
Tokyo's ties with Beijing and Seoul have soured after Koizumi took office in
2001 and began his annual visit to Yasukuni, which China and South Korea see as
a symbol of Japan's past militarism.
Koizumi, who says he makes the pilgrimages to pray for peace and honor the
war dead, last went in October, triggering protests from the two Asian
Earlier this month, China turned down Japan's request to hold a meeting
between their leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in South
No formal Japan-China summit has been held since Koizumi took office,
although he has met Chinese leaders on the sidelines of international