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China expresses concern over reports on Japanese senior official's visit to war shrine
2006-08-04 07:39:13 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday expressed concern over reports that Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine in April, Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"We hope that the Japanese side will make similar efforts along with the Chinese side to push Sino-Japanese ties back to the track of normal development at an early date," spokesman Qin Gang said while asked for comments.

"It is a common aspiration of the two peoples and conforms with the fundamental interest of the two countries for Japanese leaders to stop visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, where World War II criminals were worshiped, and take tangible action to eliminate political obstacles hindering the normal development of Sino-Japanese relations," Qin said.

There are reports on Friday that Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine in April 15 this year, where WWII Class-A war criminals were worshiped.

Japanese Prime minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited the Shinto shrine for five times since taking office in April 2001. Those visits stirred up strong indignation among Asian people who suffered from atrocities of Japanese aggression before and during the WWII.

According to a memorandum, written by late Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Tomohiko Tomita, the late Japanese Emperor Hirohito also expressed strongly his displeasure in 1988 over Yasukuni Shrine's decision in the late 1970s to include Class-A war criminals of World War II into its honor list.

"If Abe, a candidate of the next Japanese prime minister, continued to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, it will pose a severe challenge to the recovery of China-Japan relations," said Huo Jiangang, a researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

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