PM makes no comment on shrine visit

April 4, 2007 at 9:48 PM

TOKYO, April 4 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is saying little about whether it is appropriate to visit a controversial shrine for the war dead in Tokyo.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who will visit Japan next week, earlier in the day told Japanese reporters in Beijing he hoped visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders "will never happen again." Regular visits by Abe's predecessor Junichiro Koizumi to the shrine honoring the Japanese war dead including war criminals had strained Sino-Japanese relations.

"My stance on the Yasukuni (shrine) issue remains what I have said so far," Abe told reporters, Kyodo news agency said. The report said the prime minister was apparently referring to his stance of not making public whether he will visit or has visited the shrine.

Separately, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki repeated the government's position that it is up to the prime minister to decide whether he will visit the shrine.

Abe also said, "I look forward to talks with Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Japan that will enable us to steadfastly build a mutually beneficial strategic relationship, as we've agreed to. There are various fields such as energy and the environment where we can engage in forward-looking cooperation."

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