Shrine visit 'pouring salt into open wound'
Updated: 2005-11-24 15:53
Likening Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo war
shrine to "pouring salt into an open wound," China's ambassador to Japan on
Thursday urged a halt to the pilgrimages in order to thaw frigid Sino-Japanese
Japan's relations with China and South Korea chilled markedly after Koizumi
took office in 2001 and began annual visits to the Yasukuni shrine, where 14
Class-A war criminals including wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo are honoured
along with war dead.
Koizumi, who says he visits Yasukuni to pray for peace and honour the war
dead, last paid his respects there in October.
"When it comes to Japan's top leader paying
respects at a place where Class-A war criminals are enshrined, this revives the
bitter memories of those who suffered during the war," Chinese ambassador Wang
Yi told a packed news conference.
to Japan Wang Yi speaks during a news conference at the Foreign
Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005.
"It is like pouring salt into an open wound," he added. "When the top leader
does this, the people of China, the biggest victim of the war, find this
difficult to overlook."
Beijing wants to see a Japan-China leaders' summit take place, but "political
obstacles" must first be overcome, Wang said, speaking in Japanese.
"We don't want a meeting simply for the sake of a meeting or to show the
world that we had a summit. We want a meeting that would provide a chance to
normalise the abnormal state of relations," he added.
No formal Japan-China leaders' summit has occurred since Koizumi took office,
although the prime minister has met Chinese leaders on the sidelines of
Last week, Chinese President Hu Jintao snubbed requests for a chat on the
sidelines of a two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Busan, South
Wang dodged a question on whether Beijing was waiting for Koizumi's term to
expire next September in hopes ties would get better then, as well as how China
viewed Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, a top contender to take over the
"It is our hope that Japan-China relations will return to a healthy path as
soon as possible. Thank you," was all he would say. Abe favours visits to
Yasukuni and is known for talking tough on China.