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China protests at DPJ lawmaker's position on Yasukuni.

TOKYO, Nov. 12 Kyodo

China has protested to the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan after one of its key lawmakers publicly criticized the view that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should not visit Yasukuni Shrine because Japanese Class-A war criminals are honored there among the war dead, DPJ lawmakers told Kyodo News on Friday.

Yoshihiko Noda, the party's chief negotiator over Diet proceedings, said the theory opposed to Koizumi's visit to the shrine is illogical in an inquiry document he submitted to the government Oct. 17.

China sharply reacted to Noda's argument as it conflicts with that of DPJ President Seiji Maehara, who has said Koizumi should stop visiting the Tokyo shrine as it is honors the war criminals along with the country's war dead.

The premier's visits to the shrine are a source of dispute with other Asian countries including China which suffered from Japan's past military aggression.

Noda said in the document that the reputation of the war criminals has been legally recovered as parliament has adopted four resolutions calling for their pardon.

Thus the people who had been branded Class-A war criminals should not be called so any more, Noda said. He submitted the document because he wanted to confirm the government's position on the issue.

Cheng Yonghua, minister at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, told DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama during their meeting Wednesday that Noda's position is ''unacceptable'' and the DPJ's intentions over the issue cannot help being called into question, the DPJ lawmakers said.

Hatoyama tried to allay Cheng's discontent by saying Noda only expressed his personal view and there is no change in the party's position on the issue.

Xiong Bo, counselor at the embassy, lodged a similar protest during a separate meeting Wednesday with Yoshinori Suematsu, who heads the party's International Department.

''If such actions occur one after another, we would be unable to trust the DPJ's policies,'' Xiong was quoted as saying.

Koizumi's Cabinet said it is difficult to clearly respond to Noda's inquiry in a document it released Oct. 25.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Nov 14, 2005
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