On August 16, 2006, Dr. Wenran Jiang was interviewed by South China Morning Post on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine on the 61st anniversary of Japan's surrender in the second world war.
Mr Koizumi is likely to be replaced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe. Although Mr Abe is a part of the conservative faction of the Liberal Democratic Party, and has taken a hawkish stance on China and North Korea, Beijing is hoping growing public opinion against visits to the shrine and pressure from Japanese business to improve relations will force him to end the controversial visits and pave the way for normalisation of relations.
Dr. Jiang said Mr Abe, the grandson of a member of Japan's second world war cabinet, was a staunch nationalist and favoured visits to the shrine. He said, however, "the pressure now is enormous" not only from China, South Korea and the United States, but increasingly from the Japanese public.
Public opinion has turned against the visits after it was recently disclosed that Emperor Hirohito stopped visiting the shrine when Yasukuni secretly honoured 14 class-A war criminals - including the executed wartime prime minister General Hideki Tojo - in 1978.
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