Koizumi's war shrine visit
draws harsh criticism
Related: Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine
BEIJING, Aug 15 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday paid a visit to a notorious Tokyo war shrine which
honors Japan's World War II criminals, arousing sharp criticism from home and
It is his sixth visit to the Yasukuni Shrine since
taking office in 2001, and its impact was heightened by its timing on Aug 15,
Japan's World War II surrender day.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi, ignoring criticism from both home and abroad, visits the Yasukuni
Shrine which honors Japan's 14 notorious class-A war criminals of World
War II, in Tokyo, capital of Japan, Aug.15, 2006.(Xinhua/Reuters
The visit met immediately sharp criticism from some
Asian countries, which endured great pain of Japan's aggression during the war.
China, the biggest victim of the aggression, strongly
protested against the visit, saying it severely harms the sentiment of the
peoples victimized by Japanese militarists' aggression, according to a statement
issued by the foreign ministry.
The Yasukuni Shrine, established in 1869 under
Emperor Meiji, honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 class-A war
criminals responsible for some of the most atrocious crimes during Japan's war
of aggression against its Asian neighbors during World War II.
The visit "damages the political basis of
Sino-Japanese relations," the statement added.
Li Zhaoxing, Chinese Foreign Minister, also summoned
Japanese Ambassador to China Miyamoto Yuji to register strong protests.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing
(1st R) talks with Japanese Ambassador to China Miyamoto Yuji in Beijing,
China, on Aug. 15, 2006. Li Zhaoxing lodged serious and solemn
representations, and strong protests against Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi's sixth visit to the war criminals-honoring Yasukuni
"China strongly requests Japanese leaders to make
efforts to remove political barriers and push the Sino-Japanese ties back to the
normal development track at an early date," he said.
South Korea, which celebrated the anniversary of its
liberation from Japan's rule on Tuesday, was similarly harsh.
President Roh Moo-hyun said Japan had far to go
before it could change its pacifist constitution and that South Korea would
press ahead with strengthening its own military.
A group of former South Korean commandos gathered in
front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, where some demonstrators decapitated an
effigy of Koizumi and burnt a picture of the Yasukuni shrine.
ROK's Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan (R) talks
with Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Shotaro Oshima during their
meeting in Seoul August 15, 2006. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
Ties between South Korea and Japan have become
increasingly chilly. Last year, Roh declared "diplomatic war" against Tokyo in a
dispute over a group of desolate islands claimed by the two neighbors, as well
as over the Japanese leader's visits to the Tokyo shrine.
In Japan, Koizumi's shrine visit also drew protests
from opposition and coalition parties, statesmen, civil groups as well as peace
Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the main
opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said, "The visit was an absurd act which
could not be more irresponsible."
Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said Koizumi's
visit to the Shrine was hard to understand from abroad, while Takenori Kanzaki,
leader of the New Komeito party, the coalition partner of Koizumi's ruling
Liberal Democratic Party, expressed his regret over the visit.
Indonesia and Singapore, also victims of Japanese
militarism during WW II, criticized the visit in similar words, saying that
Koizumi's move hampered closer relationships among East Asian countries.
Russia warned Tokyo, saying that Japan should be
careful about visits by its top officials to the Yasukuni Shrine.
"We believe that visits to this shrine and military
history are extremely delicate subjects related to World War II, whose
consequences remain vivid," said Andrei Krivtsov, deputy director of the
information department of Russia's Foreign Ministry. Enditem
More Related Reports