Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi has always claimed his visits to Yasukuni Shrine are private, but these comments by his Foreign Minister tend to contradict his position. The visits are against Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution, say his opponents.
Japan should be more firm with China rather than always trying to appease its giant neighbour, the Japanese foreign minister said yesterday as he defended Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's controversial visit to the Yasukuni war shrine.
Contradicting Mr Koizumi's assertion that the visit was a "matter of personal belief", Nobutaka Machimura said the prime minister was aware of the diplomatic fallout when deciding to make the visit.
The war shrine served Japan's national interest and Mr Koizumi's visit "was to show that he should not succumb to foreign pressure".
Brian Schwarz 10 24 05