Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday said that repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by some Japanese leaders had greatly hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and seriously undermined Sino-Japanese relations.
"I hope this will never happen again", Wen said in a joint interview with 16 Japanese news organizations.
High-level visits between the two countries were suspended because of former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's continued visits to the shrine, where 14 Japanese class-A war criminals from World War II are enshrined.
Wen noted that this year is the 35th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relationship and the 70th anniversary of the "July 7 Incident" marking the beginning of the War of Resistance against Japan in China.
"China and Japan face opportunities and challenges," Wen said.
The interview came ahead of Wen's Japan tour slated for April 11-13. His visit will be the first trip to Japan by a Chinese premier in the last seven years.
China and Japan overcame a number of political obstacles last October when Chinese president Hu and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Beijing. The two reached agreements on facilitating bilateral relations.
"The two sides should handle relations from a strategic, long-term perspective. I hope the Japanese side will not do anything that might hurt the feelings of Chinese people again", Wen told the Japanese reporters.
Wen expressed his hope that Prime Minister Abe would take the overall situation of China-Japan relations into consideration, cherish the hard-won opportunity, honor his promises and make continuous efforts to promote bilateral ties.
(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2007)