Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in his first news conference of the year, argued that Yasukuni is not a diplomatic issue, rebutting claims that Japan is being isolated in Asia because of his repeated visits to the war-related Shinto shrine.

Naturally, freedom of speech in Japan allows for a variety of opinions on the issue, but the claim that Japan is being isolated just because of the absence of top-level dialogue with China fails to paint the broader picture of Japan’s diplomacy in the region.

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