New Foreign Minister justifies Yasukuni visits

"It is no surprise that the prime minister of Japan swears to the war dead that Japan will make efforts to realize a peaceful world."

At a news conference on September 28, newly appointed Foreign Minister Machimura Nobutaka defended Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's yearly visit to the war-glorifying Yasukuni Shrine.

He stated, "In Chinese people's view on afterlife, bad persons should be treated as bad persons even after their death. This is what Japanese people do not understand."

In an interview later in the day, the new foreign minister also expressed his view in favor of constitutional change to enable Japan's Self-Defense Forces to use force abroad.

Machimura is a member of the group of Dietmembers visiting Yasukuni Shrine.

Visiting the shrine where war criminals are enshrined has been arousing concern and criticism in Japan and abroad because this amounts to justifying Japan's past war of aggression.

Official trip to Japan by Chinese leaders have been suspended since October 2000 for this reason. (end)

Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved.