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China refutes Japanese criticism of Korean activist's commemoration

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Wednesday refuted Japanese criticism of China's honoring of a Korean activist, as tensions keep rising following Japanese leaders' visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

"Ahn Jung Geun was a renowned anti-Japanese activist," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press briefing in Beijing.

The Korean shot dead Hirobumi Ito, who was then first governor-general, or the top colonial official, of Japanese-ruled Korea, at China's northern city of Harbin in 1909.

Ahn was arrested at the scene and secretly executed in March 1910 by the Japanese government.

China on Sunday unveiled a memorial hall for Ahn at Harbin Railway Station, where the assassination occurred.

The memorial hall, funded by the Harbin municipal government and railway authorities, came after President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea (ROK) asked China to help build such a monument to Ahn during last year's summit talks.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has dubbed the memorial a way of honoring a "terrorist."

"If Ahn Jung Geun was a terrorist, then how should we define the 14 Japanese Class-A World War II criminals enshrined in the Yasukuni Shrine?" Qin responded on Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the shrine in December to show respect to the dead Japanese militants, which sparked strong protests from China and the ROK, as well as international criticism.

"If the establishment of a memorial hall for Ahn Jung Geun was an honor for a terrorist, then how should we define Japanese leaders' visits to the Yasukuni Shrine?" Qin likewise heckled.

The ROK's Foreign Ministry has also strongly censured Japan for Suga's comments on Ahn, labelling them irrational and "a-historical."

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 22Jan14]

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