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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Japan rebuffs China summit offer
Yasukuni shrine (Chris Summers)
A number of war criminals are enshrined at Yasukuni
Japan's top diplomat has described as "beyond comprehension" China's offer to resume summit talks if Japanese leaders stop visiting a controversial shrine.

Foreign Minister Taro Aso said the Chinese condition made it sound as if Japan was solely responsible for difficulties between the two countries.

A row over the Japanese PM's visits to the Tokyo war shrine has lasted months.

The country's neighbours view them as evidence Japan has not fully repented for its actions in World War II.

Among the 2.5 million dead commemorated at the Yasukuni shrine are more than 1,000 war criminals. They include 14 class-A criminals executed by the Allies after the war.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited the site five times since he took office in 2001. China and Japan have not held a formal summit since then.

China has described the visits as "stupid" and "not moral".

'Responsibility'

Mr Aso said China's offer to hold a summit with such a condition made it seem "as though the Japanese government is entirely responsible for all of the difficult discussions between Japan and China".

"Don't you have to meet with someone if you want to resolve a problem?" he said.

Japan's chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe, also criticised China in an interview published in Tuesday's Nihon Keizai newspaper.

Mr Abe, a candidate along with Mr Aso to replace Mr Koizumi when the prime minister steps down in September, said the two countries did not share fundamental values about freedom and human rights.

However, he also said dialogue between the two countries "should not be stopped over a single issue".


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