"The foreign minister did not say that the emperor ought to visit Yasukuni Shrine under the present circumstances. He simply pointed out the need to consider a way for government representatives, as well as the emperor, to naturally honor the Japanese war dead without causing discomfort for neighboring countries," Japan's Acting Consul General Hiroshi Sato said.
The Times said Aso recently suggested "that Japan's emperor ought to visit the militaristic Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese war criminals are among those honored, and his claim that Taiwan owes its high educational standards to enlightened Japanese policies during the 50-year occupation that began when Tokyo grabbed the island as war booty from China in 1895."
The Times also said Aso has characterized China's long-term military buildup as a "considerable threat" to Japan.
Sato said the foreign minister "welcomes Beijing as a responsible partner and sees China's rise as an opportunity."
Sato, however, said that it "does not seem fair to say that China has no recent record of threatening Japan," citing an incident involving a nuclear submarine that he described as a "trespass into Japan's territorial water."
"Aso simply referred to internationally-shared concerns over China's consistent and nontransparent military activities and buildup," he said, adding that Japan "continues to encourage China to improve transparency in its military affairs."
kyodoWednesday February 22,