Koizumi’s apology sop to China for WWII acts

Associated Press

Jakarta, April 22:

Japan’s prime minister expressed “deep remorse” over his country’s World War II aggression against Asian neighbours in a speech today at the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta — a move aimed at defusing Tokyo’s growing tensions with China. “In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations,” Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said at the opening ceremony of the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta. “Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility.” Koizumi’s apology did not go beyond what Japanese leaders previously have said, but its delivery at the conference clearly was aimed at easing an escalating row with China over Tokyo’s handling of its wartime atrocities and its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

In response to the apology, however, China’s ambassador to South Korea, Li Bin, said: “Of course, words are important. But I believe actions are more important.” Koizumi said he was hoping for a one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Jakarta on Saturday, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported. But China says it’s still considering the proposal.

Meanwhile, in a move that contrasted with Koizumi’s conciliatory comments 80 Japanese

lawmakers visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. There were no Cabinet ministers among the group, which visited the shrine in observance of an annual spring festival. In Jakarta, Koizumi said Japan will stick to a “peaceful path” and increase its overseas development aid to Asian and African nations. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in an interview in Jakarta that Koizumi’s speech clearly shows Japan’s regret, a core point he was hoping to convey to the delegates. Meanwhile, a report from Singapore said Singapore accused Japan today of straining relations with its northeast Asian neighbours. The report said Japan was rendering a “strange interpretation” of World War II in Japanese history textbooks — an issue that has caused widespread anger in China. The textbooks were “not in the interest of the entire region,” Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Annan’s plea

JAKARTA: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday urged Asian and African leaders to back his push to reform the United Nations, saying they could benefit from plans to increase development aid and boost the world body’s role in protecting human rights. It’s time for a quantum leap in resources for development,” Annan said. — AP

Koreas’ interface

SEOUL: South Korea’s prime minister met with North Korea’s number two leader on the sidelines of the Asian-African Summit in Jakarta on Friday, a South Korean news agency reported. Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan spoke with North Korea’s Kim Yong Nam but there were no discussions on major issues. — AP