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S.Korea, China say Japan PM shrine trip hurts Asia
Updated: 2005-11-15 20:29

Trips by Japan's prime minister to a war shrine some say glorifies the country's militarist past should stop because they strain ties in Asia, the foreign ministers of China and South Korea said on Tuesday.

In a meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon urged Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to consider how the visits rekindled painful memories.

"Japan's leaders should stop doing things that hurt the feelings of the people of China and numerous Asian countries," Li told reporters.

"Go ask Europeans how they would feel if a German leader paid homage to the Nazis," said Li, who has declined bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart at the APEC event.

Koizumi is expected to receive a chilly reception at the APEC meeting of Pacific Rim leaders held in South Korea's second city, Pusan, because of his trip last month to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine.

That visit, along with his others to Yasukuni, is seen by China, South Korea and other countries that were victims of Japanese past militarism as deeply offensive.

A senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official told reporters Ban agreed with Li that the shrine visits should stop. Ban asked Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Aso in a meeting on Monday for Japanese politicians to halt their visits to Yasukuni.

It was handshakes and smiles mixed with frank talk when Ban met Aso. The two focused on the importance of trade and cultural ties and vowed to mend a rift over Yasukuni and other disputes over history.

Koizumi will meet South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday, when leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies gather for annual talks.

Aso and Li spent time in their meetings with Ban discussing six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. Ban asked for China's help in the talks, which ended their most recent round last week in Beijing with key parties Pyongyang and Washington far apart.

Although not on the official APEC agenda, the status of international efforts to end the nuclear program of South Korea's neighbor to the north -- and what that means for the region's stability -- will loom large.

Five of the six parties in the North Korean nuclear talks -- China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States -- are APEC members.

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