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China urges Japan to ensure rights of 2 in shrine protest

December 14, 2018
In Dec. 12, 2018, photo, fire department personnel inspect following a minor fire at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo. China's foreign ministry says it has urged Japan to ensure the legal rights of two Hong Kong residents who staged a protest this week at a shrine to Japan's war dead in Tokyo. (Kyodo News via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — China has urged Japan to ensure the legal rights of two Hong Kong residents who staged a protest this week at a Tokyo shrine honoring Japan’s war dead, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang did not say whether Beijing considered the protest justified, but urged Japan to take responsibility for its actions during World War II, when it invaded much of East Asia, including parts of China.

“We have expressed our concern to the Japanese side. China urges Japan to properly handle this issue and to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the persons involved,” Lu told reporters at a daily briefing.

The two were detained Wednesday after one of them set a fire inside Yasukuni Shrine while the other shot video that was later posted on Facebook.

The protest came a day ahead of the annual commemoration of the 1937 Nanking Massacre, in which China says 300,000 civilians and disarmed soldiers were killed. Some in the Japanese right wing deny any massacre occurred.

Yasukuni enshrines Japanese killed in military actions, including convicted war criminals. Visits to the shrine by Japanese politicians routinely spark outrage in South Korea and China, where many believe Japan has yet to show adequate contrition for its wartime aggression and atrocities.

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