Lee visited Yasukuni to pay tribute to his deceased brother whose soul is enshrined at Yasukuni. Lee said his visit was personal and no politics nor history was in mind.
China responded that Lee's intention, a member of the independet faction n Taiwan, in visiting Japan was clear, and expressed the regret that Japan allowed Lee to enter Japan but avoided mentioning Lee's visiting Yasukuni.
In other words, China does not like Lee's freedom of speech in Japan.
Some people talk as if Japan were to blame for letting him enjoy the freedom of speech....which I find extremely hard to understand.Taiwan’s Lee visits Japan war shrine
By David Pilling in Tokyo and Kathrin Hille in Taipei
June 7 2007
By Chisa Fujioka Wed Jun 6, 10:52 PM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - Former Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui, despised by Beijing for asserting the self-ruled island's sovereignty, paid his respects at a Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine on Thursday, despite China's objections.
Lee's visit could cast a cloud over the recent thaw in Sino-Japanese relations, although a Japanese government spokesman said it would have "nearly zero effect" on ties.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on Lee's pilgrimage to Yasukuni, which is seen by many in Asia as a symbol of Japan's militarism before and during World War Two.
But Beijing had earlier warned Japan it risked harming ties by allowing Lee to visit the country. Tokyo had countered that his trip was for tourism and should have no impact on relations.
Lee, 84, told a news conference before going that his pilgrimage to Yasukuni was a personal matter to pay respects to his elder brother, who died fighting for the Japanese during World War Two, when Taiwan was a Japanese colony.
"It is completely personal, please don't think of anything political or historical," he said, speaking in Japanese. "As family, showing respect to my elder brother by visiting the shrine is something I must do."
Some 300 supporters of Lee, who was educated in Japan and led Taiwan from 1988 to 2000, shouted "banzai" (long life) when he arrived at the shrine. Some waved Japanese flags.
Yasukuni honors millions of Japanese war dead -- among them soldiers from Taiwan and Korea who fought for Japan, their colonial ruler at the time -- but also some convicted war criminals, including wartime prime minister Hideki Tojo.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said Japan was a free country and would not prevent Lee from visiting the shrine.
Lee's pilgrimage could damage the fragile rapprochement in Sino-Japanese ties that began after Abe took office in September and made an ice-breaking trip to Beijing.
Relations had worsened under Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, largely due to Koizumi's annual visits to Yasukuni.
Before becoming prime minister, Abe had backed Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni shrine, but he has declined to say whether he would go there while in the country's top post.
Some diplomats said Lee's move was partly an appeal to conservative Japanese politicians who favor tighter ties with Taiwan, with which Tokyo has no formal diplomatic ties.
Beijing has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when China's Nationalist forces fled to the island after losing power on the mainland to Mao Zedong's Communists.
Unlike much of Asia, which harbors deep resentment toward Japan due to its wartime aggression, Taiwan maintains a more friendly attitude toward its neighbor to the north.
Taiwan was already a Japanese colony when World War Two broke out and was largely spared the fighting and harsh treatment meted out to many of the countries that Japan occupied during the war.
Many in Taiwan also credit Japan for helping to modernize the island and maintain rule and order there.
In another move that might irk Beijing, Japan's Justice Ministry decided to let U.S.-based Chinese pro-democracy activist Wei Jingsheng enter the country for medical tests, Kyodo reported.
Wei had arrived at Tokyo's Narita airport at the weekend to attend an event to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators that killed hundreds, possible thousands, of students and workers.
But Japanese immigration authorities had refused him permission to enter the country because he lacked a visa. He has been staying at a hotel near the airport since his arrival.
Wei, 57, suffers from diabetes, Kyodo said.
(Additional reporting by George Nishiyama and Linda Sieg in Tokyo and Doug Young in Taipei)
Saturday June 9, 8:13 PM
2ND LD: Man hurls bottles at ex-Taiwan leader Lee, misses
(Kyodo) _ (EDS: UPDATING INFO, COMBINING STORY HEADLINED 'EX-TAIWANESE LEADER BLASTS CHINA OVER JAPAN LEADERS' YASUKUNI VISITS')
A man claiming to be Chinese hurled two plastic bottles containing liquids at former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui at Japan's Narita airport Saturday shortly before he left for home, police said, adding Lee was unhurt as both bottles missed him.
"I dislike him and I came here to protest. I became upset at seeing a placard about independence for Taiwan," the police quoted the man, who says he is a 34-year-old engineer in Chiba City, as saying.
Lee blasted China at a press conference earlier Saturday for making a fuss over Japanese leaders' visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo which is seen by China and other Asian countries as a symbol of Japanese militarism before and during World War II.
The incident took place around 3:30 p.m. in the departure lobby of the Terminal 2 building of the international airport east of Tokyo when the 84-year-old Lee was about to leave Japan for Taipei, wrapping up an 11-day trip to Japan.
The suspect emerged from among some 60 people waving flags at Lee in the lobby to show their ADVERTISEMENT
support for Taiwan and to see him off, investigators said. ADVERTISEMENT
The plastic bottles were of soft drinks and had their caps on. The suspect said he bought the bottles at a vending machine in the airport and hurled them without having opened them, according to the police.
During his visit that began May 30, Lee caused controversy by visiting the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday to honor his elder brother, who died while serving in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.
Just after Lee's visit to Yasukuni, China expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with Japan for allowing Lee to visit the country.
Earlier Saturday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, Lee said, "There is no rationale for a foreign government to say anything at all about or criticize" visits by Japanese leaders to the shrine because "it is natural to pay homage to young people who died for their own country."
Lee said the problem of Yasukuni visits is an issue "made up by mainland China and Korea" in an attempt to divert criticism by their peoples away from domestic issues that they have "failed to deal with."
Lee, who led Taiwan from 1988 to 2000, also indicated successive Japanese governments have overreacted to such protests and diplomatic pressure from neighboring countries, saying, "I believe Japanese politics was far too weak."
Lee, however, did not comment on Yasukuni honoring, along with Japan's war dead, Japanese Class-A war criminals.
Beijing regards Taiwan as an inseparable part of its territory to be reunited with the mainland, by military force if necessary. Beijing sees Lee as a key pro-independence activist. Japan switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing in 1972.
Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule before and during World War II.
Lee also said Saturday, "Taiwan is one independent country. We've said Taiwan is an independent country which has sovereignty and freedom."
"I've not been challenging China," Lee said. "It is important to create stable circumstances" between China and Taiwan through bilateral dialogue, he said.
Lee urged the Chinese government to "promote democracy and grant people freedom" and said that "its economy has been growing for now, but no one can predict what could happen in the coming years."
Looking back on his stay in Japan, Lee said, "It was a great success" as he visited several Japanese prefectures to follow in the footsteps of 17th century haiku poet Matsuo Basho.
His trip to Japan was his third since stepping down as Taiwan's president in 2000. He describes them as private visits.link
Sunday June 10, 7:00 PM
Aso sees no problem with ex-Taiwan leader Lee's visit to Yasukuni
(Kyodo) _ Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Sunday that he sees no problem with former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's visit Thursday to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, dismissing criticism from China about Lee's recent trip to Japan.
"Mr. Lee is 84 years old and has retired to private life," Aso said in a speech in Sendai, northeastern Japan. "His elder brother is honored at Yasukuni Shrine and I wonder what problem there is in his having visited it while he is still healthy."
Lee's brother died while serving in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule.
Just after the former Taiwan leader's visit to the shrine, China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with Japan for allowing Lee, a person it sees as a prominent pro-independence figure, to visit the country.
Aso emphasized that Japan has stuck to its one-China policy based on the Japan-China joint declaration of 1972, when Tokyo switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing.
He also praised the fact that democracy has taken root in Taiwan, saying it is the "only place in Chinese history" where there was a change in political administration through an election rather than a coup d'etat.