Koizumi said he won't be swayed on war shrine
Updated: 2005-12-05 15:12
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday shrugged off China's
cancellation of a customary meeting, saying he would not let his visits to a war
shrine become a "diplomatic playing card."
"I am ready to talk any time. If
they are postponing, that's not a problem," Koizumi told reporters.
China on Sunday called off a three-way meeting among the Chinese, Japanese
and South Korean prime ministers in Kuala Lumpur this month. The trilateral has
been held every year since 1999 on the sidelines of Southeast Asia's ASEAN
The move came amid furor in the two neighboring countries over Koizumi's
visits to Yasukuni shrine, which honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including
14 convicted war criminals.
"Yasukuni is no longer an effective diplomatic playing card. It is not going
to be that, even if China and South Korea attempt to make it so," Koizumi said.
China and South Korea, which were invaded and occupied by Japan in the 20th
shrine as a symbol of Japan's militarist past.
Koizumi has defied protests and visited the Shinto sanctuary five times while
in office, most recently on October 17. He says he goes to the shrine to mourn
Japan's dead and recommit the nation to pacifism.
China also ruled out any meeting between President Hu Jintao and Koizumi on
the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November
in South Korea.
Summit host, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun, met Koizumi but said it was
only to show him courtesy as a guest and used the encounter to denounce his
visits to the shrine.
Koizumi's Yasukuni visits are also domestically controversial with numerous
lawsuits filed against his pilgrimage, mostly on the grounds that it violates
the constitutional separation of religion and state.