Mr Koizumi has visited Yasukuni every year since taking office
in April 2001, but has always avoided the sensitive 15 August anniversary.
Despite the prime minister's absence, the visit has still ruffled
feathers in China.
"Before and after 15 August every year is always a troublesome
time for Sino-Japanese relations," says the Communist Party paper
"The many senior officials who are still paying respects at the
Yasukuni Shrine only shows a weak concept of history and contempt
for the feelings of victims from China and other Asian countries."
The paper describes the visit as "a typical display of self-centred
and narrow nationalism" on the part of the Japanese.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on its web site urges Japan to face
up to its past. "Correctly recognising and treating that part of
history... is conducive to the healthy and steady development of
friendly and neighbourly bilateral relations."
The Japanese press are divided over the visit. An economic daily,
the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei), fears the damage that
it might do to relations with China, believing it to be the "principal
obstacle" to improving the atmosphere between Beijing and Tokyo.
It notes that good relations are particularly important prior to
the forthcoming six-way talks on the North Korean nuclear programme.
The paper calls on both sides to make "mutual concessions" to resolve
This view is echoed in the Asahi Shimbun. The paper expresses
disappointment at the government's decision on 14 August not to
fund a proposed secular alternative to a war shrine.
"At such a memorial, visitors would not have to worry about the
religious and ideological connotations of visits to the Yasukuni
Shrine," it says.
The paper says that disputes in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) over the issue led the project to be shelved. "Aides to Koizumi
regard the issue as a hot potato knowing it could kindle an unwanted
internal feud before the party presidential election in September."
But the Sankei Shimbun disagrees. It does not feel that
it is necessary to make any changes to the 15 August memorial ceremonies.
It calls on China to stop criticising Japan over the Yasukuni visits.
"Foreign countries should not meddle in the internal affairs of
another country. They should not do so even if Yasukuni shrine honours
Class-A war criminals."
based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information
from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from
150 countries in more than 70 languages.