Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has criticized Chinese and South Korean leaders for refusing to hold meetings with him during the ASEAN summit.
"I don't understand the desire to criticize one citizen, the prime minister, for visiting a facility of his own country ... to pay respects to the war dead," Koizumi said Wednesday at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia summits.
Koizumi said that he was ready to meet "anytime" with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts, but added, "I don't know what China and South Korea think about that."
He said he visited the shrine - where war criminals are included among the 2.3 million war dead honored - to heighten his determination that Japan must not launch another war, adding, "I have no desire at all to glorify or justify the war of the past."
The inaugural East Asia Summit was held Wednesday after a series of annual ASEAN-related summit meetings this week - among solely ASEAN members, between ASEAN and each of its dialogue partners, and among ASEAN, Japan, China and South Korea, UPI reports.