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Japanese prime minister warns China against landings
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (UPI) Apr 24, 2013


Japan PM defends ministers' visit to war shrine: report
Tokyo (AFP) April 24, 2013 - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Wednesday defended a visit by his ministers to a controversial war shrine after protests by China and South Korea, which regard it as a symbol of wartime aggression, a report said.

Beijing and Seoul protested over weekend visits to the Yasukuni shrine by Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and two other cabinet ministers.

On Tuesday, another 168 Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine in central Tokyo, which honours 2.5 million war dead, including 14 leading war criminals.

"My ministers will not yield to any kind of intimidation," Abe said during a session of parliament, Kyodo News agency reported.

"It's a matter of course to secure the freedom to express one's respect and worship to precious souls of the war dead."

Abe added that one of his jobs was "to protect the pride (of the Japanese people) built on history and tradition and to protect national interests," Kyodo said.

His remarks came after South Korean President Park Geun-Hye earlier Wednesday warned Japan against shifting to the right and aggravating the "scars of the past" following the shrine visit.

"Japan should go harmoniously with the international community," Park told a meeting of chief editors from major South Korean newspapers and broadcasters, according to the Yonhap news agency.

"If it leans to the right, relations with northeast Asia and other Asian countries will be in trouble.

"If (Japan) has a different perception of history and aggravates the scars of the past, it will be difficult to build future-oriented ties."

Beijing also protested against the visits, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying telling reporters that Japan must atone for its past behaviour.

"No matter in what capacity or form Japanese leaders visit Yasukuni shrine, in essence it is an attempt to deny Japan's history of aggression through militarism," she said on Tuesday.

"How Japan views history and deals with the Yasakuni shrine is an important benchmark for its Asian neighbours and the international community to observe and understand what role Japan will play in the future."

Abe did not make a pilgrimage himself. But he has paid for equipment made of wood and fabric, bearing his name and title, which was used to decorate an altar.

Japan would respond with force if China attempts to land on the disputed Senkaku Islands, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Parliament.

Abe was responding to a question about what he was prepared to do if Chinese ships sailing close to the islands -- called the Diaoyu Islands by the Chinese -- tried to land, a BBC report said.

"We have made sure that if there is an instance where there is an intrusion into our territory or it seems that there could be landing on the islands then we will deal will it strongly," Abe said.

China claims the Senkaku Islands, which lie about 100 miles north of Japan's Ishigaki Island and about 115 miles northeast of Taiwan, as its territory under treaties signed in the late 1800s.

At the end of World War II the islands were under U.S. jurisdiction as part of the captured Japanese island of Okinawa. Japan has administered them since 1972 when Okinawa was returned to Japan.

Tensions flared between Beijing and Tokyo in September after the Japanese government bought three of the islands from a private Japanese owner, triggering protests in Chinese cities.

Since then China has stepped up patrols around the islands for which Japan has lodged formal diplomatic complaints.

Abe's warning -- the most explicit to China since he took power in December -- came as eight Chinese ships sailed around the islands, the BBC said. A flotilla of 10 fishing boats carrying Japanese activists was also reported to be in the area, as well as the Japanese coast guard.

A report by Japan's Kyodo news agency said China's State Oceanic Administration saying its eight vessels were in the area but within what it claims is its territorial waters.

The vessels are monitoring the activity of a flotilla of boats reportedly carrying members of a Japanese nationalist group, the Kyodo report said.

Japanese coast guard officials have said it was the largest number of Chinese government ships to enter the disputed area since September when Tokyo purchased the islands.

In January China said it would carry out an oceanic survey of the islands as part of a larger island and reef mapping project started in 2009, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency said.

"Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets have been the inherent territory of China since ancient times," a Chinese government said at the time.

China's National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation has completed mapping of islands within 60 miles of China's coastline and will start on territories further afield which include the Senkaku, also claimed by Taiwan.

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