◆Simply stopping Yasukuni visits won't solve problem: ex-Bush aide
Japan should consider stopping its leader's visits to Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine from a ''very broad perspective'' so as to play a leading role in Asia, a former senior White House official said Friday.
''Just stopping (the) Yasukuni (visits) because China says stop is not the solution to this problem because the Chinese side may have another complaint,'' said Michael Green, who served until December as senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council.
Simply stopping Yasukuni visits won't solve problem: ex-Bush aide+
Japan should consider stopping its leader's visits to Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine from a "very broad perspective" so as to play a leading role in Asia, a former senior White House official said Friday.
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"Just stopping (the) Yasukuni (visits) because China says stop is not the solution to this problem because the Chinese side may have another complaint," said Michael Green, who served until December as senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council.
But such visits to the Shinto shrine, which honors convicted Japanese war criminals together with the war dead, compromise Japan's strategic position in Asia "because this issue is used by Beijing to undercut Japan's bid for a permanent seat" on the U.N. Security Council, Green said in an interview with Kyodo News, indicating the United States believes Japan should end such visits.
"So in that sense, it's a big challenge for Japanese diplomacy, and it's a challenge for the United States because the United States wants Japanese diplomacy to be active and wants Japan to play a leading role in Asia," said Green, now senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Green emphasized that it is up to Tokyo, not Washington, to decide how to tackle the Yasukuni issue, which he called sensitive for Japan, China and South Korea.
"It's not for the U.S. government to tell our ally Japan how to handle the question, to go or not to go," Green said.
"That is an internal decision," he said. "How Japan deals with it will have to be something that the Japanese people and the government decide."
But Green reiterated that China is using the history issue to tarnish Japan's image as a key Asian and international player. "And that's a problem," he said, "and that's why this history issue has a strategic component to it for the United States and for Japan."
Green said it is critical that Japan stand as "an example of a stakeholder in international society...a country that is contributing, that is democratic, that has free markets, that is helping to deal with challenges around the world."
He stressed the need for Japan to solve the Yasukuni issue from a "very broad perspective."
"It's up to the Japanese side to proactively come up with a strategic approach to maintain and strengthen Japan's diplomatic weight in Asia, based on Japan's contribution to international society and Japan's values as a democracy and a free market" he said.
Japan's relations with China and South Korea have soured due to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which other Asian countries feel are insensitive given their memories of Japanese aggression during the war.
Green said the United States has encouraged the three countries that their leaders "should have frank discussions on these sensitive history issues and try to come up with approaches that are satisfactory for all parties."
U.S. President George W. Bush visited the three countries last November, and discussed the issue with Koizumi, Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun.
Green said Washington wants China to become a "stakeholder" in the international community, taking responsibility in dealing with problems like the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea and stopping its "far too cozy" ties with "rogue" nations like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Cuba.