Tokyo's Relations with Beijing and Pyongyang
Thursday, October 14, 2004 Posted: 09:54 AM JST
Japan sees the future in China and must be patient to recover the past from North Korea, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told Japanese legislators yesterday. 'I want to continue to enhance cooperation in wide-ranging areas and develop future-oriented ties between Japan and China,' he said during a Parliament question and answer session.
The opposition claims that Koizumi has endangered relations with China because of his repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The shrine honors 2.5 million Japanese solders who perished in wars since the 19th century, including convicted Class A war criminals from World War II. China, with memories of Japan's occupation between 1931 and 1945, has expressed outrage at Koizumi's yearly visits to the shrine.
'I cannot help saying it is doing harm to Japan's national interest that relations between the Japanese and Chinese leaders have been chilled to the bone due to your visit to Yasukuni shrine,' Yukio Hatoyama said. Hatoyama is a former Prime Minister and top member of the opposition Democratic Party. According to Hatoyama, Prime Minister Koizumi plays second fiddle to US President Bush, while ignoring China's 'unshakable' diplomatic clout.
Although Japan and China are neighbors, Japanese and Chinese leaders have not visited each other's countries for three years. During this time Koizumi met North Korean leader Kim Jung Il twice. Japan hopes to normalize relations with the reclusive state, prevent it from deploying nuclear weapons and recover Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents during the 70s and 80s.
Recently these talks have bogged down and the Japanese Prime Minister hinted yesterday that economic sanctions were a possibility to pressure North Korea back into negotiation. 'However, before taking up economic sanctions, I want to urge patience for the North Korean side to give a sincere response on the abduction issue,' he said. Japan has officially acknowledged that North Korea abducted thirteen Japanese. Private organizations believe the true number lies in the hundreds. Five of the thirteen, and their families, have returned to Japan, but North Korea claims that the others are dead. Japan believes that many of them are still alive and kept against their will.
Keywords: national_news political_news
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