Two steps forward, three steps back...
Koizumi is determined to put a good face on relations between Japan and its neighbors.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Friday said there is no change on the policy of insisting on China-Japan friendship.
According to Jiji News, Koizumi made the remarks in a meeting with Tsutomu Takebe, secretary general of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Bilateral ties between China and Japan is the most important ties for both sides, Koizumi said, adding that China-Japan ties is influential to peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and the world.
"No matter what happens, the policy will not change," the premier was quoted as saying.
One thing with Koizumi, you will normally know where you stand.
Unfortunately, he has to deal with others in his government saying exactly the wrong things. This doesn't help on the heels of his visiting Yasukuni.
...Masahiro Morioka, parliamentary secretary for health, labor and welfare, said Thursday that Class-A war criminals convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East after World War II are no longer regarded as criminals in Japan.
China's biggest complaint to Japan is Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals along with 2.5 million war dead. China views visits by Japanese leaders to the shrine as an action that glorifies its militarist past.
Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori also made a potentially explosive remark when he said Thursday that China and South Korea are "nothing but niggling" when they criticize a Japanese history textbook they say is glossing over Japan's militaristic past.
So, for ever couple of steps taken to heal the rift, there are three or for more idiotic things that happen.
UPDATE: Please read this post on Coming Anarchy. Not so much for the post but the comments that follow, don't miss Jing's comment. I'm sure anyone who has been reading my writings the short time I've been blogging will know where I lean in the discussion.
UPDATE II: Some more has been coming out on the problems inside the Diet. The issue of Yasukuni is being to divide members.
Also, more has been released on the comments of Morioka.
Meanwhile, New Komeito Secretary General Tetsuzo Fuyushiba said at a Diet members meeting Thursday that Koizumi should refrain from visiting Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines the country's war dead including Class-A war criminals.
"I wonder if Japan should do something that China and South Korea don't like," he said. "We should take into consideration the sentiment of the people [in those countries] who were victimized in the war."
New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki and Fuyushiba talked about the matter Tuesday. They reportedly agreed at a press conference that Koizumi should refrain from visiting the shrine because the party's supporters said they want the government to clarify its stance on the issue.
Masahiro Morioka, parliamentary secretary of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry criticized the Chinese government for demanding Koizumi stop visiting the shrine. "Class-A war criminals are treated as bad people because of fear of China," Morioka said. "War criminals were categorized as Class-A, Class-B and Class-C at the Tokyo Tribunal of War Criminals. They were categorized by a one-sided tribunal led by the Occupation forces at which crimes against peace and humanity were created."
"A war is part of politics, and it is in line with an international law. The Diet unanimously agreed to pay pensions to the families of Class-A war criminals who have died. They're not seen as criminals in the country," he said. (emphasis added by me)
I had no idea about the last part. Do other countries pay pensions to the families of convicted Class A war criminals?