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Japan PM 'must correct mistake'

Updated: 2013-12-30 01:47
By ZHAO YANRONG ( China Daily)

China is taking a tougher stance toward Japan, observers said, after a state councilor condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a shrine honoring its war dead, including war criminals.

Yang Jiechi, the state councilor in charge of foreign affairs, said on Saturday in a statement that Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A war criminals from World War II are honored, was a mistake that must be corrected.

Yang is the highest-ranking Chinese official so far to respond to the visit that took place on Thursday.

It is rare for a state councilor to release a statement on the shrine visit issue, said Yang Bojiang, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In the past, state councilors and other top leaders would comment on this kind of issue on occasions such as receiving Japanese guests or answering media questions.

"A state councilor issuing a statement reflects China's strong protest against the visit", which was the first by a sitting Japanese prime minister since 2006, Yang Bojiang said.

Yang Jiechi said in the statement: "The Chinese people cannot be insulted, nor can the people of Asia and the world be humiliated. Abe must own up to his wrongdoing, correct the mistake and take concrete measures to remove its egregious effects."

Yang Jiechi said that the shrine visit questions whether the Japanese government is able to repent its militarist aggression and colonial rule.

"We urge Abe to give up his illusions and mend his ways, otherwise he will further discredit himself before Japan's neighbors and the international community," he said.

Yang Bojiang said Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is not only an issue between China and Japan.

"It offended the whole world and challenged the consciences of all people," he said.

Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, also said Abe must correct his wrongdoings, as well as be accountable to history and to the Chinese people.

If not, Qu said, it is impossible for Japan to improve its relations with its neighbors and the country will also lose trust from the international community.

The United States and South Korea canceled some military exchanges with Japan after Abe's shine visit.

South Korea has called off a series of proposed defense meetings and military exchange programs with Japan, Yonhap News Agency reported on Sunday, citing a government source.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said on Friday that Abe's "untrustworthy" behavior leaves no room for further military ties between the two Asian neighbors.

The US government also canceled a planned telephone conversation between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Jiji Press reported on Friday.

The US government had said it was "disappointed" by Abe's visit to the Tokyo shrine.

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