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Japan: China condemns ministers’ visit to war criminals’ shrine

by Our Foreign Desk

CHINESE Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei slated yesterday’s decision by three Japanese cabinet ministers to visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo.

He called the visits a “wrong attitude to history.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe avoided visiting the shrine this year, sending offerings instead, so as not to jeopardise Wednesday’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The shrine honours Japan’s war dead, including war criminals, which outrages Tokyo’s neighbours which suffered brutal Japanese occupations.

“I offered my sincere appreciation for the people who fought and sacrificed their lives for the sake of their country,” said Disaster Management Minister Eriko Yamatani to explain her Yasukuni visit.

She visited the shrine with Haruko Arimura, who is in charge of promoting women’s empowerment, and Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi after over 100 legislators prayed there on Wednesday.

Mr Hong called on Tokyo to atone for its militaristic past.

“China-Japan relations can only advance in a healthy and stable way if Japan can face up to and reflect on the history of aggression and make a clean break from militarism,” he said.

Mr Xi urged Mr Abe at their meeting in Indonesia to improve his country’s handling of relations with its Asian neighbours and to show a better attitude to its history.

The Japanese PM expressed a desire to improve ties but did not refer directly in his speech to the Asian-African summit to Japan’s previous apology for “colonial rule and aggression.”

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