Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi promises he will not heed criticism from China and South Korea over his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine.
"I don't understand why China and South Korea have criticized the visits," Koizumi said at a speech marking the 50th anniversary of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo Wednesday. He said he visited the shrine - where war criminals are included among the 2.3 million war dead honored - to heighten his determination that Japan must not launch another war.
He also criticized Beijing and Seoul for using the shrine visits as diplomatic leverage against Japan, the Nikkei Shimbun reports.
Stressing that economic exchanges with the two countries are increasing, Koizumi said that differences on one issue should not undermine the relationships between the countries.
Japan's diplomatic policy is to cooperate with all the countries of the world, including China and South Korea, and to strengthen its relationship with the United States, Koizumi said according to UPI.