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Nanjing pays tribute to 'Conscience of Japan'
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-06 06:01

Azuma hailed as model for countrymen

China yesterday expressed condolences over the death of Japanese war veteran Shiro Azuma, hailing him as a role model for his countrymen.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press conference that Azuma was one man who dared to acknowledge the truth of history and wanted to improve relations between China and Japan.

He said Azuma's conscience, courage and righteousness had won the respect of the Chinese people.

"I believe there are more people in Japan like Azuma, who are making unremitting efforts to maintain the friendship between the two countries in line with the spirit of 'taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future," Qin said.

He also made it clear that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine a symbol of Japanese militarism are totally unacceptable.

On Wednesday, Koizumi once again defended his repeated visits to the shrine where Class-A war criminals of World War II are honoured but said he was committed to developing friendly ties with China.

Qin reiterated that China is not responsible for the current stalemate and is always in favour of dialogue. However, communication and co-operation between the two countries require the proper political conditions and atmosphere.

The spokesman also refuted some Japanese reports that Japan is investing in Chinese gas exploration projects in the East China Sea and that the two countries agreed to share the interests according to a certain proportion.

Qin said the two countries agreed on joint exploration during the third round of gas talks in Tokyo in October. "But details such as the capital and the distribution of the interests haven't been touched upon yet," he said.

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