Go to contents

Japan May Win the Bid If PM Do Not Visit Yasukuni Shrine

Japan May Win the Bid If PM Do Not Visit Yasukuni Shrine

Posted February. 17, 2004 22:44,   


Debate between Japan and China is heating up over the observance of the annual ritual at the Yasukuni Shrine.

China implied that it is willing to back Japan in a series of bids such as the one for a high-speed railway if the Japanese prime minister does not visit the shrine. However, he appears to have not changed his mind.

Deputy Head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Liu Hongcai reportedly said, “Both the Shinkansen and the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) would be Japan’s if not for the Yasukuni issue” when he met Takenori Kanzaki, head of the New Komeito Party, yesterday in Beijing.

The remark is interpreted to mean that Beijing will support Japan`s Shinkansen in the bid for a construction project of high-speed railways connecting Beijing and Shanghai for which France, Germany and Japan are competing, and that the Chinese government will also back Japan in a bid to build ITER, which engages Japan and France, if Prime Minister Koizumi does not pay an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, according to Japan’s daily newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, yesterday.

Since taking office in 2001, Koizumi has paid four visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which has caused the Chinese government to fall on deaf ears every year to Japan’s call for an official visit by Koizumi to China.

As the Sino-Japanese relations have soured, Japan’s opposition parties argued that a new facility of this kind that is unrelated to war criminals is necessary. Koizumi said that he would “consider it after nation-wide discussion.”

However, the situation returned to the starting point as Koizumi later said, "I have no such feeling" when asked if he felt reluctant to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors convicted war criminals.

Even former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone last Sunday suggested different ways to exclude “Class A” war criminals from the shrine. However, the possibility of any measure being implemented is low because of anticipated strong opposition from nationalistic groups in Japan.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com