Ex-Taiwanese leader Lee visits Tokyo war shrine

Updated: 2007-06-07 10:32

File photo of Lee Teng-hui.

TOKYO -- A former leader of Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui, visited a Tokyo war shrine Thursday, which is seen by China and other Asian nations a symbol of Japan's militaristic past.

The name of Lee's elder brother is written on a list of the dead at Yasukuni Shrine. It honors 2.5 million war dead, including Japanese World War II leaders executed for their war crimes and tens of thousands of Koreans and Taiwanese drafted into the Japanese military during Japan's colonial rule.

The 84-year-old former Taiwanese leader, who had long been working on separating the Taiwan island from China, arrived in Japan last week for an 11-day visit. 

On Wednesday, Beijing slammed Lee for using his visit to push for Taiwanese independence, and for trying to undermine China-Japan relations.

China in late May expressed "strong dissatisfaction" toward Japan for allowing Lee's visit.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed that Lee's visit is private and that he did not expect it to hurt Tokyo's relations with Beijing.

Yasukuni Shrine is a major source of contention between China and Japan.

But Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's Japan visit in April helped ease their differences.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's six visits to Yasukuni during his 2001-2006 leadership enraged China and South Korea, the two main victims of Japanese aggression in the first half of the 20th century, prompting them to reject summits with Koizumi.

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