On April 21, 2002, Vice Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing urgently summoned Japanese Ambassador to China Koreshige Anami. He was ordered to make solemn representations with the Japanese side on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine on the same day.
Li said that the Japanese leader had visited the shrine again, in defiance of the strong opposition from the people of Japan's neighboring countries in Asia following his previous visit. To revisit the shrine was an erroneous action that harms the feelings of the Chinese people and is detrimental to Sino-Japanese relations. The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied and is firmly opposed to Japan's action.
The Yasukuni Shrine is a psychological pillar and tool of Japanese militarism to launch aggressions abroad before the war. It still honors 14 Class A war criminals who committed heinous crimes in China and some other countries.
How Japanese leaders treat the issue of Yasukuni Shrine reflects the Japanese government's attitude on the war of aggression and influences whether Japan can take the road of peace and development. China, proceeding from the maintenance of peace and justice and the overall interests of China-Japan relations, has been resolutely opposed to visit by Japanese leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine in any form or at any time.
Li said that China is the biggest victim of the war of aggression launched by Japanese militarists. In China-Japan Joint Statement, the Japanese government deeply feels the responsibility of inflicting, though war in the past, upon the Chinese people great suffering and profoundly regrets it. In 1995, Japanese prime minister issued a speech on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war, and expressed the willingness to admit the facts in history that Japan invaded and established colonial rule on its close Asian neighbors, deeply regretted it and apologized. Afterwards, successive Japanese cabinets all explicitly stated that it is the official stand of the Japanese government. Prime Minister Koizumi issued a speech at Lugouqiao Museum on the Anti-Japanese War in October last year, admitting aggression, regretting the war, and extending condolences and an apology. The words of self-examination are still fresh on the ears. However, the Japanese side again took an erroneous act on that day. It is unacceptable in terms of feelings, reason, oriental ethic and international morals.
Li said that humankind has entered the 21st century. Peace, development and cooperation are the trend of the times. Japanese leaders should understand that the Japanese people, who have suffered a lot from the war, will not allow their own country to return to the path of militarism. The Chinese and Asian people will not forget the appalling tragedies caused by Japanese militarism in Nanjing and elsewhere in Asia. Besides, people will not forget the various barbarian acts by Japanese militarism on the Pacific Ocean. The truth of history will not be easily forgotten, slighted or betrayed.
Doesn't Japan want to shake off the shadow of history and play an international role as soon as possible? At present, it is imperative that the international community maintain world peace and stability. If a leader of a country does not hold a correct attitude towards the past war of aggression and the war criminals at that time, how can he win credit from the people of the world?
Li pointed out that the Chinese side has always attached importance to friendly relations between China and Japan, and worked unremittingly towards that end. The Japanese side has created time and again incidents on major issues concerning the political foundation of China-Japan relations, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and disturbed and damaged China-Japan relations. Japanese leaders should ask themselves and admit their errors and responsibility.
Holding history as a mirror and facing future is the most fundamental and precious lesson derived from the development process of bilateral relations. The Japanese side should attach great importance to China's solemn stand and profound concern, adopt concrete measures, eliminate its bad image and prevent similar incidents from happening again.