Japanese PM's shrine visit "stupid": European scholars
Updated: 2005-11-01 22:16
Two European scholars have
criticized Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the notorious
Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo as a "stupid" move, which has drawn wide attention from
"This is the most stupid thing he could do," said Axel Berkofsky, an expert
on East Asia from the Brussels-based European Policy Center, in an exclusive
interview with Xinhua.
Berkofsky, who once studied and worked in Japan for several years, said it is
impossible for Japan to improve ties with China as "Koizumi continues to visit
the war shrine." He said it is "completely counterproductive."
"It is not understandable" why Koizumi visited the shrine despite the fact
that he did know it would make the relations with China, South Korea and other
Asian countries worse, he added.
Berkofsky said he believed that Koizumi is not interested in improving
relations with China.
Stanley Crossick, the founding chairman of the European Policy Center,
expressed similar views on Koizumi's shrine visit.
"This visit to a shrine which, among others, honors Japanese war criminals,
seems to be a deliberate insult to the Chinese, Koreans and others who suffered
appallingly at the hands of the Japanese," Crossick told Xinhua.
Crossick, who had dealt with Japanese law service in Europe before he set up
the think tank in Brussels, has a special liking for studying international
relations in east Asia. He is going to publish an article on Sino-Japanese ties
on the European Voice, an English-language weekly.
Crossick said the shrine visit reveals a fact that "60 years after the end of
the Second World War, there has been no true reconciliation between China and
Crossick compared the Sino-Japanese relations with those between France and
Germany, pointing out that historical, political, cultural and leadership
differences are the four underlining factors which explain why Franco-German
reconciliation was much easier.
"German school text books tell the truth about World War II, while Japanese
text books do not," he said.
After 1949, when the People's Republic of China was established, many in
Washington mistakenly believed that China was controlled by Moscow, he said.
The United States, which decided to retain Japanese Emperor Hirohito, also
failed to make the Japanese people acknowledge its collective guilt as a nation,
he said, adding that "this was a serious error" in its policy-making.
Sino-Japanese relations have experienced hardship this year, which has drawn
wide attentions from Europe.
In April, for instance, the European Union (EU) foreign ministers expressed
"concerns" over the development of China-Japan relations during a gathering in
The two experts maintained that good Sino-Japanese relations are essential
for a stable Asia, and a stable Asia is conducive to a stable world.
Berkofsky said the volume of bilateral trade between China and Japan is huge
and both are big markets for each other.
"It is so stupid to jeopardize the fruitful economic relations between China
and Japan," he added.
On October 17, Koizumi paid his fifth Yasukuni visit despite strong
opposition at home and abroad.
The Japanese prime minister has visited the Tokyo-based shrine, which honors
14 Class-A war criminals responsible for Japan's aggression against its Asian
neighbors before and during the World War II, once a year since taking office in
Koizumi's previous visits triggered waves of protest from Japan's neighboring
countries, especially from China and South Korea, creating a deep rift between
Japan and the two countries.