06/27/2005, 00.00
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The Second World War still divides Japan and China

Even South Korea has protested against the honours conferred by the Japanese government on soldiers fallen in the war.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/agencies) – The Second World War is still a cause for tension between China and Japan and Tokyo's attitude is creating disgruntlement even in Southern Korea. The last burning issue was the poisoning of three people in 2003 and 2004 by gas emitted from Japanese bombs which remained buried in Chinese soil after the world war.

The government of Tokyo acknowledged the event, but meanwhile, a decision of the Japanese High Court served to fuel the flames: the court refused to grant compensation to 10 Chinese immigrants who survived a bacteriological attack during the Second World War. According to Japanese estimates, more than 700,000 chemical weapons were left on Chinese soil. Ties between the two countries became tense again some months ago due to the Japanese government's approval of school books which are silent about the massacre of Chinese civilians.

Even South Korea accuses Japan of not coming to terms with history and of not acknowledging the massacre of Korean civilians. This was one reason why Seoul cancelled its availability for shared navy exercises last month.

The upcoming visit of Emperor Akihito to the island of Saipan is sure to inflame people in Beijing. The emperor will go to honour 43,000 soldiers and 12,000 Japanese civilians who died in the battle against the USA in 1944. The Chinese were also offended by Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to soldiers fallen in the war. Some of the soldiers are considered by the Chinese to be war criminals, like General Hideki Tojo.

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