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Japanese editorial excerpts -4-.

TOKYO, Sept. 5 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

BITTER NEIGHBORS (IHT/Asahi as translated from the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun's editorial published Sept. 3)

Every time Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is asked if he will visit Yasukuni Shrine, he gives the same answer: ''I will make an appropriate decision.''

Koizumi has single-mindedly hidden what his true intentions may be by maintaining this ambiguity.

Yet, Koizumi's visits to the shrine have been a thorn that is increasingly irritating relations between Japan and China.

Last year, China surpassed the United States as Japan's largest trading partner. We can't talk about Japan's economy without mentioning the key role that China's economy plays in it.

Nonetheless, Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine have chilled diplomatic relations. Official meetings between the two nations' leaders have been frozen for more than four years. During that time, they have only met on the sidelines at international conferences.

So naturally, opposition parties are seizing Asian diplomacy as a major issue in this Lower House election. They all criticize Koizumi's visits to the shrine. They pledge they will restore relations with China and Korea. They say they will place more emphasis on Asia.

Katsuya Okada, president of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), announced that he would not visit Yasukuni Shrine even if he becomes prime minister. Okada said he based his decision on the fact that Yasukuni enshrines former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and other Class-A war criminals. Okada says he does not agree with the shrine's defense of the last war as ''a deed of self-preservation and self-defense.''

The Japanese Communist Party says, ''We will not tolerate movements trying to justify the war of aggression and colonial occupation.'' The party has demanded that the prime minister stop visiting the shrine.

The Social Democratic Party criticizes Koizumi's visits as fueling antagonism from neighboring nations and violating the Constitution, which defines the separation of religion and government.

Ruling coalition partner New Komeito also opposes official visits, yet the party does not make that clear in its campaign manifesto. Party leader Takenori Kanzaki has said, however, ''I have taken advantage of many opportunities to advise the prime minister not to visit the shrine.''

(Sept. 5)
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Sep 12, 2005
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