. GLOCOM Platform
. . debates Media Reviews Tech Reviews Special Topics Books & Journals
. Newsletters
. Summary Page
Search with Google
Home > Special Topics > Social Trends Last Updated: 15:18 03/09/2007
Social Trends #118: July 13, 2005

China-Japan Relations under the Koizumi Administration Series: - China-Japan Timeline for June 2005

J. Sean Curtin (Fellow, GLOCOM and Asia Times)

A list of articles on a similar theme by the same author can be found here.

During June, tensions in China-Japan relations persisted as the neighbors geared up for July and August, two months which see some sensitive historical anniversaries. 7 July marks the anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge incident, the event which triggered the bloody Sino-Japanese War, and 15 August is the day Japan surrendered, a date which is especially important for China this year as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of the ending of WWII.

Unlike in April and May, there were no major incidents which exacerbated bilateral strain. Even so, the issue of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine remained a central political theme. In an unprecedented move, eight former Japanese prime ministers advised Koizumi to be cautious about visiting Yasukuni in light of the poor state of ties with Beijing. There was also renewed debate about removing the names of the 14 Class A war criminals honored at the shrine, something the Yasukuni authorities publicly rejected on the grounds of "religious faith."

The Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, a vigorously supporter of Koizumi's Yasukuni pilgrimages, sounded an unusually conciliatory note, telling the prime minister: "It is important that the spirits of the war dead rest in peace. It is necessary to pay consideration to neighboring countries and win their understanding." Koizumi brushed aside the advice, but in the long-term the move may prove an important initiative in easing tension over the shrine.

Chinese preparations for commemorating the 60th anniversary of the ending of WWII moved into full swing as government controlled TV stations launched a series of programs about the country's struggle against Japan. A reminder of the nation's wartime past came when three Chinese people were injured in Guangzhou in southern China after inhaling poison gas from an abandoned chemical weapon left by the Imperial Japanese Army at the end of World War II.

Meanwhile in Japan, 116 LDP lawmakers, including prime ministerial hopeful Shinzo Abe, formed a panel to support Koizumi's Yasukuni visits for the sake of "peace" and "national interests." An Asahi Shimbun poll found 52 percent of respondents think Koizumi's Yasukuni pilgrimages should stop, while about 36 percent support them.

June 2005 Timeline

1 June 2005 - In an unprecedented move, House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono brought together five of Koizumi's predecessors for a meeting on Sino-Japanese relations. The gathering advised Koizumi not to visit Yasukuni. Speaking on behalf of former prime ministers Kiichi Miyazawa, Tomiichi Murayama, Ryutaro Hashimoto, Yoshiro Mori and Toshiki Kaifu, Kono said, "We cannot overlook the rapid deterioration in Japan's relations with China...It cannot be denied that one of the reasons behind this is Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni." The statement also got the backing of three other former prime ministers, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Morihiro Hosokawa and Tsutomu Hata.

Kono, who served as foreign minister, also reminded Koizumi that none of his predecessors had officially visited the shrine while in office and the last leader to do so was former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in 1985.

Koizumi casually dismissed the collective advice of every single one of his living predecessors, telling reporters, "This is nothing new." He added, "I have heard these opinions individually."

- Takenori Kanzaki, head of the LDP's junior coalition partner, New Komeito, reiterated his party's call for Koizumi to refrain from visiting Yasukuni. Kanzaki warned that another Yasukuni visit "would have a negative impact to the foundation of the ruling coalition." However, he also added, "A decision on whether to maintain the coalition will not be made on the Yasukuni issue alone, but on a more comprehensive judgment."

2 June 2005 - During a House of Representatives Budget Committee session, Koizumi answered several Yasukuni related questions. He said, "I think other countries should not interfere with the visits paid not as a duty of the prime minister but out of my personal belief...It's a matter of my heart." On the International Military Tribunal for the Far East which convicted top Japanese leaders as Class-A war criminals, Koizumi said, "Our country has accepted it, so we are not in a position to dispute it." He disassociated himself form the view promoted by Yasukuni that Japan's role in World War II was legitimate as its aim was to "free" Asia. Koizumi said, "I don't want my visits to Yasukuni Shrine to be taken as meaning I support the shrine's view."

2 June 2005 - LDP General Council Chairman Fumio Kyuma suggested that caution was needed when visiting Yasukuni as it honors Class-A war criminals "who issued the order for war." He was concerned that showing respect for the nation's war dead was getting mixed up with the question of who was responsible for the war. Mild criticisms of Koizumi's stance have been echoed by other prominent LDP figures who, even though some have visited the shrine themselves, believe a prime minister has to be more cautious. Former LDP Secretary General Makoto Kogo, who chairs the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, said Koizumi needs to exercise consideration and sympathy toward neighboring countries. Former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman and prime ministerial hopeful Shizuka Kamei even suggested that the prime minister could possibly stop visiting the shrine for the time being out of concern over worsening relations with China and South Korea.

3 June 2005 - Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone advised Koizumi not to visit Yasukuni. During a question-and-answer session at a lecture held at Keidanren Hall in Tokyo, he said "I understand the prime minister visits the shrine out of his personal beliefs...However, a prime minister should also think how his conduct will affect the national interest...a separate enshrinement of Class-A war criminals will take time, I think it would be an admirable political decision to stop visiting the shrine."

4 June 2005 - The Yasukuni Shrine authorities reiterate their resolve not remove the names of Class-A war criminals from their premises, claiming that the results of the Tokyo war crimes tribunal were controversial and its validity questionable. In a written statement, it explained, "This is a matter of Japanese religious faith...Their separate enshrinement will never happen...There was no recognition of war criminals among the Japanese at all."

- Breaking a long silence, the granddaughter of Hideki Tojo, Japan's wartime prime minister, said in a TV programme that she opposed the removal of her father, an executed Class-A war criminal, from the list of those enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine. Yuko Tojo said, "It's an issue of state and not a problem of a private individual. It's also not an issue of whether to withdraw enshrinement after a foreign country made a claim...It will be tantamount to admitting that the last war was a war of aggression." On the same programme, Former Yasukuni Shinto priest Tadashi Yuzawa said on the issue of removing the Class-A war criminal, "It will never happen, no matter how times change." Tojo also said an official of the association of bereaved war families sought consent in 1985 from Tojo's kin about a proposal to separate the war criminals from the war dead at Yusukuni, but the family refused.

- Tsutomu Takebe, LDP Secretary General said in a speech that the government would not ask Yasukuni to separate the war criminals, citing constitutional separation of state and religion.

- Hisahiko Okazaki, a former Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Thailand, wrote a lengthy and influential piece in the Yomiuri Shimbun entitled "Japan must never concede on Yasukuni issue." In it he sets forth many of the arguments of Japanese neo-conservatives. The following extracts highlight most of his main points:

"When it comes to the Yasukuni issue, the Chinese government has successfully fomented public opinion in favor of Beijing's official stand, on the strength of a comprehensive anti-Japanese school education and government-orchestrated public relations activities in the past dozen years or so....Given this, the formation of the current Chinese public opinion over the Yasukuni issue is simply the fruit of incessant endeavors on the part of the Chinese government in the past decade..."

"It still seems possible China's strategy will be successful. This does not mean, however, that settlement in one form or another of the Yasukuni problem in conformity with China's strategy will lead to a lasting friendship in bilateral relations. Such a settlement would, at best, do no better than produce an ephemeral period of calm. Also, seen from the viewpoint of China, this would signify its success in winning the Yasukuni dispute, which can be likened to China having seized a stronghold in the center of a battlefield. In other words, the success would be tantamount to attesting to the effectiveness of China's strategy, making it almost certain that the same strategy would be used to achieve Beijing's other policy goals..."

"If Japan is able to defend the integrity of its position over the Yasukuni issue, the success would serve as proof of the ineffectiveness of the strategy China has so far pursued. It might even lead China to conduct some soul-searching conducive to creating a new relationship with Japan. Unless Japan adopts such a policy, China would continue to employ the same strategy in dealing with one issue after another, thus perpetuating the jerky pattern that characterizes Japanese-Chinese ties. This country should not make concessions regarding the two key principles of noninterference in domestic affairs and the separation of political and economic issues..."

"Concerning the Yasukuni problem, Japan should not budge an inch. Any concession would be calamitous, endangering the security and prosperity of Japanese in the future. If it concedes on the problem, all it can expect in return is nothing more than a temporary period of calm. This would include a resumption of summit talks between Japan and China that would, in essence, fail to touch on substantial matters. A concession on Japan's part would only be justifiable if China came up with such specific measures as deleting ill-grounded anti-Japanese descriptions from its history textbooks. If China understood what would be required to settle the Yasukuni problem, it might decide to rethink its strategy. Then there would be some room for concession to be sanctioned by the spirits of the war dead to which Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated. Otherwise, Japan should absolutely refuse to make a concession over the shrine."

6 June 2005 - Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura publicly denounced former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and other LDP lawmakers who have taken a "soft line" on China. He said, "It's odd that Mr. Fukuda has made such remarks [that it was unusual for Chinese and Japanese leaders not to have mutual exchanges]. Visits by the leaders have not been made since he served as chief cabinet secretary." He also attacked Takeshi Noda, the LDP head of the Japan-China Society. Machimura said, "Japan-China relations are heading in the wrong direction because of the presence of such a person [as Noda] flattering Chinese officials." He added, "Why do they have to humiliate themselves so much by kowtowing to China? I don't understand these traditional champions of friendly Japan-China ties." Machimura later said, "Some people criticized the prime minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine as signs of militarism, but that's absurd."

7 June 2005 - House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono urged Koizumi to stop visiting Yasukuni in a meeting with the premier. Kono said, "[The prime minister] should decide whether to visit the shrine with utmost caution." The two men met so Kono could deliver the findings of his 1st June meeting with five former prime ministers, all of whom advised extreme caution before paying a visit to Yasukuni. Koizumi reportedly responded that he believes he has obtained the understanding of Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun regarding his Yasukuni forays. Asked afterwards if he would continue to visit the shrine, Koizumi gave his standard reply, "I have decided I only say at present that I will make a decision appropriately."

- Responding to Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura's 26 May statement that post-World War II aid to Asian countries indicated that Japan has repented for its wartime past, Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said, "I'd like to separate these two issues clearly...We can't eliminate the period of history when Japan caused damage and catastrophe to Asian countries just because Japan has provided aid to the relevant countries." He added, "The worshiping by Japanese leaders at Yasukuni Shrine constitutes a ridiculous and wrong denial of history by Japanese officials." Since 1980, Japan has given China 3.133 trillion yen in low-interest loans, 145 billion yen in grants and 144 billion yen worth of technical cooperation.

8 June 2005 - Yuko Tojo, granddaughter of wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, said in a newspaper interview, "Japan didn't fight wars of aggression. Only China now says so." She also revealed that some years before relatives of a number of the Class A war criminals families' signed a petition agreeing to their removal, but the Tojo family, refused. Yuko Tojo said if her uncle had signed it, "It would have meant that we would admit it was a war of aggression. It was a matter for the whole nation, not a matter for individuals, so he didn't sign it."

- LDP lawmaker Masahiro Morioka told the Diet, "Unlike free and democratic countries such as Japan, China is an autocratic communist country controlled by one political party. In dealing with such a country, we must not think only about our current national interests. If we do so, we will make policy mistakes that will affect Japan's future."

11 June 2005 - The Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, which has vigorously supported and encouraged Koizumi's Yasukuni visits, sounded an unusually cautious note about continuing prime-ministerial homage. Former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Makoto Koga, who heads the Japan War-Bereaved Families Association, was quoted as saying: "Having prime ministers visit Yasukuni Shrine has been an ardent wish of the association and we are grateful. At the same time, it is also important that the spirits of the war dead rest in peace. It is necessary to pay consideration to neighboring countries and win their understanding."

Koizumi responded, "I'm always giving consideration," but did not rule out paying homage at the shrine this year. The association is a reliable vote-gather for the LDP and highly influential within the party. Its support was crucial to Koizumi when he was campaigning in the LDP presidential race of April 2001. Koizumi promised the group that he would visit Yasukuni on 15 August, the anniversary of the ending of World War II, if elected LDP president and prime minister. Many believe it was this pledge that first led him to visit the shrine as PM in August 2001. For a long time, the association has campaigned for prime ministers to pay homage at the shrine in an official capacity. The fact that it has soften this strategy is significant. Some say they are giving Koizumi a face-saving way out of his "public pledge" and dangerous confrontation with China while others interpret it as an attempt by the association to stop moves to create a new memorial dedicated to the war dead which would rival Yasukuni.

- Comments made by Education, Science and Technology Minister Nariaki Nakayama about women forced into prostitution during the war by Japanese army, euphemistically called comfort women, attracted strong criticism from South Korean political parties. Nakayama said at a meeting in Shizuoka, "Although there originally was no such title as comfort women, the term has been used in some textbooks. So it was good to see that the number of textbooks that use such incorrect wording has decreased."

12 June 2005 - "Koizumi's annual Yasukuni visits give China a 'diplomatic card' it can play anytime" writes Keizo Nabeshima, former chief editor for Kyodo News, in an open editorial in the Japan Times.

14 June 2005 - Koizumi restates to the Diet that he visits Yasukuni are done as "a private citizen" rather than in his official capacity as prime minister.

- A group of about 50 indigenous Taiwanese are forced to abandon plans for a rally at Yasukuni when a large group of about 100 rightists confronted them. The Taiwanese wanted to protest Yasukuni's enshrinement of their relatives who died fighting for Japan in the war, and have repeatedly asked Yasukuni to remove Taiwanese names from the enshrinement list. The Yasukuni authorities say they cannot for religious reasons, because the shrine cannot separate souls once they are enshrined as gods.

16 June 2005 - Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said apologizing for the destruction of Japanese diplomatic property during anti-Japan demonstrations in April was a non-issue. Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said, "I believe this issue does not exist. So this question must have been resolved already."

- According to the Chinese Xunhua News Agency, the communist party's publicity department, and the PLA asked the media in July and August to express sympathy for former Chinese soldiers who fought in the anti-Japan war and their bereaved families and to report their stories as part of a patriotic campaign this summer in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of a victory over Japan in World War II. As part of this campaign China Central Television started broadcasting a series of stories on the heroes in the anti-Japan war during its regular news programmes.

17 June 2005 - Koizumi rejects a suggestion that the Japanese government set up a new war memorial as a substitute for Yasukuni. He said, "I think it may be all right to consider setting up a facility at which people can mourn without feeling uncomfortable, but no facility will substitute for the Yasukuni Shrine."

- A group of Japanese business organizations, the Japan-China Economic Association, promoting economic links with China urged Chinese and Japanese leaders to visit each other at least once a year to strengthen bilateral bonds and resolve issues relating to the war, including visits to Yasukuni.

19 June 2005 - Former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa advises Koizumi not go to Yasukuni because it would hurt Japan-China relations. Speaking on a TV Asahi talk show, he said, "It is better to remove any factors that could disturb relations between Japanese and Chinese government leaders."

- According to a Kyodo News survey, 86 percent of the Chinese respondents and 82 percent of the South Koreans oppose Koizumi's Yasukuni pilgrimages. In Japan, 41 percent of the respondents said Koizumi should not visit Yasukuni, while 31 percent said he should pay homage at the shrine. The international poll was conducted in May 2005 and since then the number of Japanese opposed to the visits has increased.

The survey also shows a deterioration in Chinese and South Korean sentiment toward Japan, with 83 percent of respondents in China, up from 67 percent in a 2002 survey, and 75 percent of those in South Korea, up from 69 percent in the same year, saying they do not have a favorable opinion of Japan.

On Japan's hopes of becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, 87 percent in China and 85 percent in South Korea said they are against the bid, with only 7 percent and 8 percent, respectively, supporting it. In Japan, 67 percent of the respondents said they support the bid, and 20 percent said they are against it.

On Japanese people's sentiment toward the two neighboring countries, 48 percent of the respondents in Japan said they feel a great deal or a certain degree of closeness to China, down by 6 percentage points from the 2002 survey, while 58 percent said they feel closeness to South Korea, up 5 points. The increase in favorable sentiment toward South Korea is attributed to a boom of South Korean culture in Japan, especially TV dramas.

On the topic of future relations between Japan and China, 22 percent of the Japanese respondents said they will improve, compared with 21 percent saying they do not think so. In China, 39 percent of the respondents said they do not think the relationship between the two nations will improve, against 30 percent who think it will. On future ties between Japan and South Korea, 43 percent of the Japanese respondents said bilateral relations will get better, but 48 percent in South Korea felt the relationship will not develop in such a direction.

57 percent of the South Korean respondents say matters concerning Japan's perception of history need to be resolved for a better bilateral relationship to develop. In China, 42 percent of the respondents said Japan's compensation and apology for its past acts are essential to improving bilateral ties.

Japanese and South Korean respondents regarded North Korea as the top nation that poses a military threat in East Asia, at 58 percent and 39 percent, respectively, but the United States was the most threatening country for the Chinese, at 61 percent. Asked about their feelings toward North Korea, 94 percent of the Japanese respondents said they do not feel closeness to the country, compared with 45 percent for the Chinese and the South Koreans' 50 percent.

Respondents in all three countries picked China as the top candidate to become the core of the Asian economy in the future.

On the positive side, the majority of young people in China and South Korea are interested in Japanese pop culture (movies, animation and music, etc.). Overall those who said they are interested in Japanese pop culture stood at 43 percent in China and 30 percent in South Korea. However, by age group young people were much more positive towards Japanese culture with 63 percent of those in their twenties showing interest in China while in South Korea the figure was 52 percent. Sorted by job category, students topped the list at 68 percent in China and 57 percent in South Korea. On the other hand, the percentage of respondents who said they have no interested at all in Japanese pop culture represented 23 percent in China and 35 percent in South Korea. In this category 42 percent of South Korean respondents said Japan should apologize and pay compensation for its wartime misdeeds.

The survey was conducted in May 2005 and covered 1,000 people each in Japan and China and 1,051 in South Korea.

20 June 2005 - Summit between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun in Seoul are dominated by the Yasukuni issue and Japan's historical treatment of the war. Commentators described the atmosphere at the meeting as chilly. The summit lasted slightly over two hours, and Roh claimed that one hour and 50 minutes were spent on the "history problem." He also said Koizumi indicated he would consider building a new national war memorial "while taking public opinion in Japan into account." However, the two leaders remained far apart on the issue. Roh said, "There were efforts to understand each other and in some areas there was understanding, but there was no agreement." Koizumi commented, "I told [Roh] that, looking at the past several months in Japan-South Korea relations, I once again take to heart the sentiment of the South Korean people concerning the past."

An Asahi Shimbun [newspaper] editorial (21 June) described the summit by saying, "It is clear the gap between the two leaders is so wide that it could not be filled at the meeting. Perhaps the two leaders did not accept questions in their joint news conference because they wanted to avoid exposing their differences."

- A Mainichi Shimbun [newspaper] survey found that 50% of respondents opposed Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni while 41% supported them. In each poll the conducted by the newspaper, opposition has steadily grown. In April 2005, 45 percent were against while 42 percent were for them. In December 2004, the figures were 41 percent to 46 percent.

- The secretaries-general of the both ruling coalition parties agreed on an Asahi TV programme that moves toward building a non-religious national memorial for the war dead would be positive. Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary-general of junior coalition partner New Komeito, said he hoped feasibility studies would be included in next fiscal year's budget and his LDP counterpart, Tsutomu Takebe said, "That would be a good move."

21 June 2005 - Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda indicated that building a new national memorial for the nation's war dead would not necessarily keep prime ministers from visiting Yasukuni Shrine. He said, "We can't make a decision for a [future] prime minister right now, regardless of the political situation and all other factors that might be in place at that time."

Koizumi asked if he believes a new facility for the war dead would soften criticism from Japan's neighbors over the issue said, "It is something Japan will consider on its own."

A Taiwanese navy frigate carrying the island's Defense Minister, and legislators, including Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-ping, sailed near the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu), an area of the East China Sea disputed with Japan to assert the right of Taiwanese fishing boats to operate in the area. The vessel came very near but did not actually enter the disputed waters. Tokyo expressed concern over the near incursion.

22 June 2005 - Masahiro Morioka, an LDP Lower House member and secretary of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, again publicly questioned the validity of the Tokyo war crimes tribunal. He said, "What tribunal was the Tokyo tribunal? Both sides do wrong in a war. It is erroneous to label only countries that win as right and nations that lose as wrong," He added, "We should raise the question to the Japanese people and to the world about whether the results of the Tokyo tribunal were really fair or not."

- Koizumi said in a parliamentary committee, "I do not think Yasukuni shrine is the core issue of Japan-China and Japan-South Korea ties. The core issue is that we should enhance our ties with future-oriented views." He added, "There are some areas of disagreements. But what's important is that we should not be detracted by those issues and should work to enhance our friendly ties." He also expressed displeasure at domestic and international calls for him to halt his Yasukuni pilgrimages, saying, "It is not something you decide to do or not to do because someone told you to do so."

- Deputy LDP Secretary General Shinzo Abe, a potential candidate for the premiership, said, "It is important that the LDP addresses the feelings of the Japanese people and not just react to outside pressure."

24 June 2005 - Japan and China conclude two days of closed-door talks aimed at halting a deterioration in bilateral ties. Chinese vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo came to Tokyo for discussions with his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi.

25 June 2005 - The majority of big Japanese companies are still willing to invest in mainland China despite growing anti-Japanese sentiment there, according to findings of a survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun [newspaper]. About 100 major companies across Japan were surveyed in June. The poll found that recent anti-Japanese demonstrations and a call to boycott of Japanese products by ultra-nationalists in China had not affected the investment plans of 36 firms, while 21 enterprises said they would continue expanding their investments. However, 32 firms said they would take into account the increasing risk of investing in China when mapping out their investment plans for China and other Asian countries. 14 companies said they would step up risk management in China, indicating their growing consciousness of the business risks involved there. None of the companies surveyed said they would reduce their investment in China, which the Yomiuri interpreted as meaning that big firms remained positive about investing in the rapidly growing Chinese economy. On the other hand, the survey also clearly illustrates that about 45% of Japanese firms are now more cautious about investing in China.

26 June 2005 - Prime Minister Koizumi should continue his annual visits to Yasukuni Shrine, to avoid giving the wrong impression that Japan will cave in to China's heavy-handed tactics, declared Mineo Nakajima, president of Akita International University. Nakajima's comments were reported in the Japan Times. He said if Koizumi stops going to Yasukuni, "China will think Japan is a nation that will compromise when strongly pressured...It will step up its interference in Japan's domestic affairs." He argued while Koizumi might personally want to cease paying his respects at Yasukuni, he shouldn't stop now after setting the precedent with his annual visits. Nakajima sees the Yasukuni issue as having taken on wider implications than simply whether Japan is repentant over its past. He believes it is now a diplomatic power game between Japan and China that has drawn the attention of the international community. Therefore, Japan's global status will diminish if Koizumi bows to Chinese pressure. Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni should be regarded as a personal matter involving an individual's religious beliefs. He believes Beijing considers Tokyo as an obstacle to its goal of becoming a superpower and should be considered a threat. Japan must reinforce the security alliance with the United States and adopt a more hardline stance with Beijing, which is rapidly building up its military. Nakajima said, "Japan should stop thinking that Sino-Japanese relations must always be benign."

- Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said he was opposed to building a secular memorial to Japan's war dead that political leaders could visit without provoking Asian countries. Speaking on a Fuji TV talk show, he said, "I have been against it for some time now. We must avoid doing anything that would cause Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines people who died for the country, to lose its significance."

- Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki and his Chinese counterpart, Jin Renqing, agreed to develop a "China-Japan Finance Dialogue" mechanism that would expand the scope of issues the two countries' financial authorities discuss. It was the first one-on-one meeting between the Japanese and Chinese finance ministers in more than four years. The two met prior to a gathering of Asian and European financial leaders in Tianjin.

27 June 2005 - Poll finds 52 percent of respondents think Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni should stop, according to an Asahi Shimbun poll. About 36 percent support Koizumi's Yasukuni visits. In May the same survey found 49 percent opposing and 39 percent for. Asked to select one reason Koizumi should stop the visits, 72 percent of pollees against the visits said "because the views of neighboring nations should be considered," followed by 13 percent who said "because Yasukuni enshrines Class-A war criminals." Among those supporting Koizumi's pilgrimages, 39 percent said he should not bow to the demands of foreign countries, closely followed by 36 percent who said Yasukuni is an appropriate place to honor the war dead. 38 percent of respondents admitted they knew little or very little about the war, while 62 percent said they knew much or somewhat about it. Questioned how they learned about the war, the largest group, at 35 percent, cited their own experiences or those of people close to them, followed by 29 percent who said they learned about it at school, and 15 percent who cited books and movies. The telephone survey of randomly selected voters was conducted over the weekend, netting 1,869 valid responses, 58 percent of those called.

- Tokyo concludes that a poison gas accident in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province in southern China on 21 June was caused by a chemical weapon abandoned by the Imperial Japanese Army at the end of World War II. Three people inhaled poison gas which leaked from an abandoned shell when they removed sand on the river bank. The government plans to immediately take measures to compensate the Chinese victims. Japan agreed with Beijing to pay 300 million yen in compensation for a similar poison gas incident in August 2003 in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province and 20 million yen in damages for two children who were injured by abandoned Japanese chemical weapons in July 2004 in Dunhua, Jilin Province.

28 June 2005 - 116 LDP lawmakers form a panel to support Koizumi's Yasukuni visits for the sake of "peace" and "national interests." The group comprises 83 Lower House members, who have been elected no more than five times, and 33 Upper House members elected no more than twice. Its ranks included prime ministerial hopeful Deputy Secretary General Shinzo Abe. The group is critical of LDP members who want Koizumi to stop his visits and plans to produce a report on the shrine issue later this year. Its chairman, Tadahiro Matsushita, said, "Various discussions on the Yasukuni issue are going on both within and outside of the country, but no progress has been made based on accurate perceptions."

- The South Korean government formally requested Japan hand over a stone monument built to honor local volunteer soldiers that fought against Japan's invasion of the Korean Peninsula in the 16th century. The stone, called the Buggwan Grand Battle Monument, currently stands on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine and was brought to Japan by an Imperial Japanese Army officer during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).

- Tokyo confirms that Chinese Customs officials in Dalian confiscated more than 120 educational books headed for a Japanese school because of "inappropriate" references to Taiwan, including maps that gave the island a different color than China's. "The materials did not pass customs because China and Taiwan were depicted in different colors," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda. There are seven Japanese schools in China. Japanese schools in Beijing and Shanghai are affiliated with the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General, but the Dalian school is classified as a school for children of foreigners and is subject to Chinese law.

30 June 2005 - For the first time in China a commemorative event was held to mark the 60th anniversary of a 1945 uprising at a Japanese wartime labor camp known as the Hanaoka Incident. Chinese survivors and relatives of those who died in the incident gathered in Beijing to remember about 400 Chinese forced laborers who were killed near the Hanaoka copper mine when the uprising was pull down. Another ceremony took place simultaneously in Odate, Akita Prefecture, where the now disused mine is located. At the Chinese service a survivor, Wang Zhenglu, gave an emotional speech. He said, "Forced labor is a crime that the Japanese government, military and businesses jointly carried out on the Chinese people, and the Japanese government has a direct, grave and unavoidable responsibility."

. Top
Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications