• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tried to telephone Jiang Zemin before the announcement Aug. 30 of his coming historic visit to North Korea, but the Chinese president refused to take the call, according to Japanese and Chinese sources.

The Chinese action apparently stemmed from lingering resentment toward Koizumi’s spring visit to Yasukuni Shrine on April 21, according to the sources, adding that the Japanese side felt snubbed.

Yasukuni Shrine, located in Tokyo, honors war criminals alongside those who have died in wars.

When the Japanese government told Chinese officials that Koizumi planned to make a call to Jiang, the officials declined, saying, “President Jiang cannot take calls now.”

Koizumi phoned U.S. President George W. Bush and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung to notify them of his planned Sept. 17 summit in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Tokyo later told Beijing of the visit through diplomatic channels on the evening of Aug. 29, the sources said.

The two countries had planned a visit by Koizumi to Beijing in September as part of events to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral diplomatic ties.

China trip denied

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda denied a media report Wednesday that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi plans to pay an official four-day visit to China starting Oct. 1.

The Sankei Shimbun reported that Koizumi plans to meet with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji in Beijing during his four-day stay.

At the talks, Koizumi will report the results of the landmark Japan-North Korea summit, slated for Sept. 17, and discuss security issues for Asia, the Sankei reported.

“The government is not working out such a plan,” Fukuda said during his daily news briefing.

Koizumi, in New York, also dismissed the report, saying, “Our meeting should take place when it is best for the two sides. If China invites me, I will go. If China is not in a situation to welcome me, I won’t.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China ties, but Koizumi’s controversial visits to Yasukuni Shrine in August last year and in April this year still remain a thorny issue for the two countries.

The Shinto shrine honors Japan’s war dead as well as 14 Class-A war criminals convicted by an international war tribunal after World War II.

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