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Abe courts victims of empire

China calls on Japan's PM to wake up to the realities of Japan's imperial history

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he wanted to explain to his neighbours why he decided to visit a shrine to war criminals.

But China again called on the nationalist politician to wake up to the realities of Japan's imperial history.

Mr Abe visited the Yasukuni shrine - where 14 convicted class-A war criminals are enshrined among the nearly 2.5 million dead - on December 26, sparking a diplomatic furore with China and South Korea.

"Since there are some difficulties and issues we should be speaking together without setting any preconditions," Mr Abe said.

"I would really like to explain the intent of my visits to the Yasukuni shrine directly to them. We are not making any direct approach on this, but the door to dialogue is open."

China, Korea and other south-east Asian states suffered grievously at the hands of Japanese imperialism with millions slaughtered and tens of thousands of women abducted and repeatedly raped by military personnel.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Mr Abe needed to "deeply reflect on the Japan's militarist history of external invasion and colonialism, show sincerity and make concrete efforts to improve ties with neighbouring countries."

She said his claims were "hypocritical" given his actions and that he still would not be welcome in China.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye blamed Tokyo for the strained ties, saying "sufficient preparations" would be needed before fresh talks.

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