2/17/2006

日本外相麻生太郎接受BBC访问时的言论



From BBC World-Asia Today

Feb 16th 2006

TARO ASO Japanese Foreign Minister:

Yashkuni Shrine is the place where we in Japan honour those who dedicated their lives to the nation. I don’t know of any country that prohibits its government from showing the highest honour to those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

I am certainly aware that there are different opinions about the exhibits in the museum. But since Yasukni Shrine is a purely religious institution the government cannot interfere and try to change the exhibits. I am sure you understand that.

Yes, that opinion is shared by some Japanese as well. It’s true, we do have to think of a way to accommodate objections to visiting Yasukuni, But at this moment it is premature to say what the most appropriate way is to do that. Even if we manage to resolve the dispute over Yasukuni Shine Japan and China have many other issues that we have to address, like the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands issue, and our maritime boundaries. We have issues other than Yasukuni, even if the Prime Minister stops visiting Yasukuni Shrine everthing will not be ‘green’ between Japan and China.

Riht now, we cannot stop going there just because China tells us not to go. Because no representative of any country should be told by a neighbouring country where he can go and he cannot go. I think it is normal for us to say that. So the more they go on about Yasukuni, the more we will keep on going there.

I have repeatedly said that the economic development of China should not be seen as a threat, but as a great opportunity. But the fact is that China’s defence budget has been growing every year by double digit numbers. The Japanese defence budget is 4 trillion yen. And if we also increase this by double digit numbers for 17 years, it would grow to be 23 trillion yen. If that happened we might well be considered a military threat by neighboring countries. The Japanese budget is very transparent, so people know what we are spending it on. But Chinese defence expenditure is not transparent, and that is why I referred to China as a possible threat.

Right now, I don’t know of many people who know of many people who are prepared to express honest views to China about how other countries, particularly neighbouring countries like Japan, really feel about China. I think it’s unfortunate, if no-one is telling China what they really think. I believe we must represent Japan’s true feelings. And it must be done by someone like myself. I think that is the right job for the Foreign Minister.

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