Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said August 4 that when he visits China in early September, he intends to visit a war museum in Shenyang that contains detailed exhibits portraying Japan’s wartime atrocities and acts of genocide.

“I’m going there because I have never been there. And they have a war museum there,” Hashimoto told reporters. Shenyang and Dalian, which is also on Hashimoto’s itinerary, are in northeastern China. Hashimoto is expected to visit the two cities during his Sept. 4-7 tour of China after meeting President Jiang Zemin in Beijing

No Japanese prime minister has visited northeastern China since World War II. The vast area had been a puppet kingdom of Japan from the late 1920s, when it started a campaign to conquer China, until the war ended with Japan’s surrender.

The government had been seeking to add some local cities to the itinerary, because the tour will be made part of events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic relations. The Chinese government proposed Nanjing, but Tokyo judged that Hashimoto’s visit to the site of the 1937 massacre by the Japanese army could provoke conservatives in Japan, a Foreign Ministry source said.

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