Go to contents

Korea-Japan Relationship in Freefall

Posted August. 16, 2006 03:02,   


Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi went ahead with his “visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on August 15.”

The last time a Japanese prime minister in office visited the shrine on the anniversary of Japan`s World War II surrender was 21 years ago, when Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone visited in 1985.

Koizumi arrived at the shrine located in the center of Tokyo in his official vehicle to pay homage around 7:45 a.m.

He has visited the shrine every year since assuming office in 2001, but had never visited on the anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender.

The Korean administration expressed disappointment through a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman and summoned the Japanese Ambassador Shotaro Oshima to protest the prime minister’s action. Korean Ambassador to Japan Ra Jong-yil also made a visit to the Japanese Foreign Ministry in the afternoon to protest.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement, “We feel deep regret and anger toward Prime Minister Koizumi because of yet another visit to the shrine that serves to beautify and rationalize Japan’s past imperialism and its history of aggression.”

Korea`s First Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told Ambassador Oshima, who was called in, “The fact that Prime Minister Koizumi made the visit on the morning of Korean Independence Day hurts the feelings of the Korean people. The government and the people feel immense disappointment and anger.”

Ambassador Oshima replied, “The prime minister did not visit the shrine to honor class-A war criminals, but instead visited as a citizen to make the pledge that we will not fight in wars again.”

The Chinese government also put out a statement in the morning through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey criticism and protest right after Prime Minister Koizumi made his visit.

The Chinese protest was made just 29 minutes after Prime Minister Koizumi finished his visit. Taking account of the diplomatic norms, such speedy response is highly unusual.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized that, by making the visit despite the concern and opposition of the international society, Asian neighbors, and the Japanese people, Koizumi challenged international justice and abused the sense of mankind.

The Chinese, however, stated they would work hard to sow peaceful existence, friendly cooperation, and united development with Japan, and that the healthy development of China-Japan relations contributes to the interests of both countries, as well as the peace and stability of Asia and the world, hinting that they do not want the bilateral relationship get worse.

Tens of thousands of Chinese netizens posted messages of protest and replies on websites, some even calling Koizumi a “worship witch.”

The Japanese Consulate in China cautioned Japanese residents living in China and advised them not to discuss political issues with the Chinese nor leave their home alone.