Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi indicated Tuesday that Beijing’s anger over his visits to Yasukuni Shrine could fuel anti-Chinese sentiment in Japan and thus hurt bilateral ties.

“I would not say this or that to other state leaders over their ways of paying homage to their war dead,” the prime minister told a Diet session. “But I’ve been criticized (in this matter by China). What do the Japanese people feel (about this)?”

Koizumi’s repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors convicted Class-A war criminals along with Japan’s war dead, have been lambasted periodically by Asian nations such as China and South Korea, which suffered as a result of Japanese military rule before and during the war.

Yet Koizumi told the House of Councilors Budget Committee that he does not think Japan-China ties have stagnated.

“I don’t subscribe to the view that my visits to Yasukuni are souring friendly ties with China,” he said.

Koizumi said recently that he does not dwell on the difference between war criminals and the war dead when visiting the shrine.

Taiwan entreaty issued

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called Tuesday on Taiwan’s political parties to try to settle their current feud as President Chen Shui-bian pushed for a recount of ballots cast in the recent presidential election.

“This is a domestic matter for Taiwan. But I think it better for both the ruling and opposition parties to try to stabilize the political situation quickly,” Koizumi told reporters.

Chen has told key political figures, including those from the opposition camp, that he will proceed with efforts to recount votes, in line with opposition demands.


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