Monday, January 20, 2014

China rebuffs Japan's complaint

China has brushed aside complaints from Japan over a memorial hall that honors a Korean activist who assassinated a Japanese official over a century ago.

The South Korean foreign ministry announced on Sunday the opening of the memorial in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin in honor of activist Ahn Jung-geun.

In 1909 in Harbin, Ahn shot and killed Hirobumi Ito, Japan's first prime minister and its top official at the time in Japanese-occupied Korea.

The Japanese foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau chief, Junichi Ihara, telephoned ministers at the Tokyo embassies of China and South Korea on Monday to convey Japan's protest.

Ihara said Ahn Jung-geun is a criminal to the Japanese and that a memorial hall honoring him cannot be tolerated.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters that Ahn is a famous anti-Japanese independence fighter who is respected by the Chinese people.

He said it was entirely proper to set up a memorial, and China cannot accept the protest from Japan.

Hong also renewed China's opposition to the visit last month by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine honors Japan's war dead.

He said the visit drew sharp criticism from Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community, and he called on Japan to face up to and reflect upon history.