Chinese Foreign Ministry
|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 Photo)|
issued a statement Tuesday, strongly protesting Japan
ese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit again to the war criminals-honoring Yasukuni Shrine.
Regardless of the concern and opposition from the international community, neighboring Asian countries and the Japanese people, the statement said, Koizumi insisted on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which is a move that "challenges the international justice and tramples the conscience of mankind".
Koizumi repeatedly hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and his acts have made him lose credit to the international community and the Japanese people alike, and undermined Japan's state image and interests, said the statement.
The Chinese government expresses "strong protects" against such a move that severely harms the sentiment of the peoples victimized by Japanese militarists' aggression, and damages the political basis of the Sino-Japanese relations, according to the statement.
The maintenance of the sound growth of the Sino-Japanese relations is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese and Japanese peoples and conducive to the peace and stability in Asia and the world at large, the statement said.
With joint efforts from the Japanese statesmen and people who cherish and engage in the Sino-Japanese friendship, the Chinese government and people will, on the basis of the three Sino-Japanese political documents and in the spirit of "learning from the history and facing up to the future", be unremittingly committed to the peaceful co-existence, friendship for generations to come, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development between China and Japan, the statement said.
"We believe that people of insight from all walks of life in Japan will follow the historical tide and make efforts to wipe out political barriers so as to push the Sino-Japanese ties back to the normal track at an early date." it said.
The Yasukuni Shrine, established in 1869 under Emperor Meiji, honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead including 14 class-A war criminals responsible for the most atrocious crimes during Japan's war of aggression against its Asian neighbors during World War II.
The statement said the class-A war criminals honored in the Yasukuni Shrine were hatchers and directors of Japanese militarists' aggression, and chief criminals responsible for the great calamity imposed on Asia and the world in the modern history.
It said China is the biggest victim of Japanese militarists' aggression and the Chinese people experienced severe sufferings during that war.
It pointed out that to correctly understand and treat that part of history constituted the political basis for the resumption and development of the Sino-Japanese relations after the war, and the important pre-conditions for the two countries to face up to the future.
Koizumi visited the shrine for five consecutive years since he took office in April 2001. But Tuesday's visit was the first he paid on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.
Koizumi, who last visited the shrine on October 17, 2005, is expected to step down as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as well as prime minister in September.
Koizumi's visits to the shrine have been denounced by countries which suffered Japan's brutal aggression before and during World War II.
Koizumi's previous visits have chilled Japan's relations with neighboring China and South Korea, making the issue the major stumbling block in the smooth development of relations with those countries.
The visits also drew criticism from the public and news media in Japan. According to a recent opinion poll conducted by Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, 49 percent of the respondents are opposed to Koizumi's shrine visit as compared with 43 percent in favor.
Even in the United States, Koizumi's shrine visits have come under fire.
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations Chairman Henry J. Hyde in April sent a letter to the speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, demanding Koizumi not be invited for a speech at Congress during his June visit to the United States, unless Tokyo pledged the Japanese leader would not pay any Shrine visit after returning home.