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Beijing, Seoul slam Abe shrine visit
January 2, 2014, 5:31 am

South Korean protesters shout slogans during a anti-Japan rally in front of the Japanese embassy on December 27, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea [Getty Images]

South Korean protesters shout slogans during a anti-Japan rally in front of the Japanese embassy on December 27, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea [Getty Images]

China and South Korea have jointly condemned Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe’s visit to a controversial shrine honoring war criminals alongwith those who died in World War II.

In a phone conversation, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se denounced Abe’s shrine visit.

Japan’s Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo also visited the shrine on Wednesday.

This latest round of sparring has strained Japan’s relations with both South Korea and China.

Wang on Wednesday told his South Korean counterpart that China is “safeguarding human conscience, internationally acknowledged axioms and people’s dignity of invaded countries”.

China said its leaders would not meet Abe after he visited Yasukuni on Thursday.

South Korean Minister Yun also reiterated Seoul’s solemn position against Abe’s visit to the shrine, seen by the Chinese and the Koreans as a symbol of Japan’s past military aggression.

The two ministers also vowed for better China-South Korea relations in 2013, and exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula.

At the controversial Yasukuni shrine Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honored along with those who died in battle.

Both China and South Korea had some parts of their territory under Japanese rule in the past.

“The Chinese people and people of other Asian nations will not allow Japan to drive history in reverse. We solemnly urge Japan to reflect upon history and change course,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

The latest diplomatic row could adversely hit the trilateral FTA talks.

China, Japan and South Korea are in the midst of intensive rounds of talks for a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that would bring together a market of more that 1.5 billion people and could also aim to defuse political mistrust in the region arising from territorial spats.

Gross domestic product (GDP) of the three nations totalled $15 trillion last year, accounting for around 20 per cent of the world’s total and 70 per cent of Asia’s total.

 

TBP and Agencies

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