A Foreign Ministry spokesperson yesterday said the Japanese government should match its words of remorse over Japan's aggressive history with concrete action.
"We've noted Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's statement," Kong Quan said, referring to an apology to the victims of Japan's past aggression issued yesterday on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Taking a serious and responsible attitude towards its militaristic history serves Japan's long-term and fundamental interests, he added.
But Kong said the visits by two Japanese cabinet ministers and a group of lawmakers to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine yesterday, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals amongst 2.5 million of Japan's war dead, showed the politicians involved had seriously misjudged a key issue.
He said that, as a country that was targeted by the Japanese military, China strongly asked that the Japanese government consider its history and stop doing things to hurt the feelings of people affected by its previous military aggression.
Kong said Japan's "correct view" of its militaristic past was a prerequisite for the country to gain trust from its Asian neighbors and the international community. "It is also the political foundation for improving Sino-Japanese ties."
Koizumi's statement, which his cabinet adopted earlier in the day, was the first of its kind issued by a prime minister on the actual anniversary since 1995, when then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama apologized for Japan's past wrongdoings, the first time a premier had done so.
"Our country has caused tremendous damage and pain to the peoples of many countries, especially Asian countries, through colonial rule and invasion. Humbly acknowledging such facts of history, I once again reflect most deeply and offer apologies from my heart as well as express my condolences to all the victims of the last major war both in and out of the country," Koizumi said.
Japanese Emperor Akihito also expressed hopes yesterday that Japan would never again wage war.
"Looking back on history, I ardently hope that the horrors of war will never be repeated," he said at a memorial service.
The same day, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura underscored the importance of Japan and its Asian neighbors establishing better ties.
Japan's education ministry's approval of a fact-distorting history textbook that plays down the country's aggressive past, and Koizumi's annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, have sparked strong protests from countries including China and South Korea.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2005)