BEIJING — China on Jan 12 called on the Japanese government to distance itself from militarism following visit on Jan 9 by the Japanese prime minister to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine.
“China’s stance on visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese leaders is firm and clear,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily press briefing.
“(As long as) Japan earnestly faces up to and profoundly reflects upon its aggressive history, and distances itself from militarism, then China-Japan ties can develop in a sound and stable way,” he said.
According to Kyodo News Agency, Japan reiterated on Jan 9 that it viewed visits by its leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine as “constitutional”, as long as the purpose was to mourn those that had fallen in war and not as a religious exercise.
This stance was endorsed at a Japan Cabinet meeting on Jan 9 and released in a document in response to a question by an opposition lawmaker, Kyodo reported.
China has repeatedly stated that it firmly opposes visits by Japanese leaders to the notorious shrine, which is the final resting place of many of Japan’s Class-A World War II criminals, as it celebrates Japan’s aggression.
Japan and China both signed a four-point principled agreement in November, in which they agreed to resume political, diplomatic and security cooperation.
“Japan must honor its commitment so as to improve and develop bilateral ties,” Hong said.
Hong underscored that the content and of the agreement was clear and the Japanese government was aware of its connotations.