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Page last updated at 07:05 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 08:05 UK

China announces Japanese PM trip

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso (L) and Chinese President Hu Jintao in London (2 April)
Mr Aso met President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the G20 earlier this month

China has confirmed that Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso will make an official visit next week - his first to Beijing since taking office in September.

It comes despite recent Chinese criticism of Mr Aso for sending a gift to a shrine where some Japanese World War II criminals are honoured.

The Yasukuni shrine is seen by Japan's neighbours, including China, as a symbol of the nation's past militarism.

Previous prime ministers have stirred regional tensions by visiting Yasukuni.

Repeated visits by Junichiro Koizumi caused anger in South Korea and China, where there remains a widely-held conviction that Tokyo has not atoned properly for its war-time crimes.

Analysts say China deeply resents Japan's brutal occupation from 1931 to 1945.

'Responsible attitude'

Beijing confirmed Mr Aso's visit on 29 and 30 April in a foreign ministry statement.

The announcement came after it had expressed "serious concern and dissatisfaction" to Japan through official channels for the shrine offering.

"(We) reiterated that the question of history is highly sensitive, that any mistaken action by the Japanese side will bring a serious and negative influence to bilateral relations," the foreign ministry said.

Japan should "take a responsible attitude toward safeguarding China-Japan relations".

At the time, Mr Aso - who has avoided going to the shrine in person - said he wanted to express his "appreciation and respect as a Japanese national to the people who sacrificed their precious lives for the country".



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