PUSAN, South Korea - Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Tuesday harshly criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine by referring to Adolf Hitler and Nazis.
“What would European people think if German leaders were to visit (memorials) related to Hitler and Nazis?” he asked reporters.
“Have the Japanese people ever considered whether Asian people’s feelings are hurt by Japanese leaders paying homage to war criminals who launched a war that victimized so many people?” he said ahead of a ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Sino-Japanese relations, Li said, “face difficulties, but China is not responsible for that.”
Calling for an end to the shrine visits, he appealed for Japanese to display a “fundamental sense of right and wrong.”
The way forward, he said, “is for Japanese leaders to no longer hurt the feelings of Chinese and other Asian people” by paying homage at the Shinto shrine.
Koizumi has visited the shrine once a year since taking office in April 2001. He made his fifth visit Oct. 17.
China and South Korea in particular have been vociferous in protesting visits by prime ministers to the shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals along with the nation’s war dead.
Chinese officials have said President Hu Jintao will not meet with Koizumi on the sidelines of the two-day APEC summit. It is not clear yet if Li and Foreign Minister Taro Aso will meet in Pusan.