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Japanese Remarks Irk China

The Chinese government is denouncing remarks by a Japanese politician who said Japan could produce nuclear weapons if threatened by China. The comment raises Beijing's ire just two days before the Japanese Prime Minister visits China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue says the comments by Japan's Liberal Party leader, Ichiro Ozawa, were provocative and irresponsible.

Ms. Zhang told a news conference in Beijing Tuesday Mr. Ozawa's remarks represent an outdated, Cold War mentality and go against the wishes of both Japanese and Chinese people.

Mr. Ozawa, commenting on China's rising military spending, said last Saturday that Japan could easily make nuclear weapons if threatened by China.

Ms. Zhang says overall, however, ties between Tokyo and Beijing are improving. She cites a successful weeklong visit to Japan by Chinese Parliament chief Li Peng. She says that Mr. Li exchanged views with many Japanese leaders and reached some important agreements.

Relations between China and Japan have been strained over the past year by a lengthy trade dispute, as well as Japan's approval of a history textbook that Beijing says covered up Japanese World War II aggression. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is coming to China Thursday to attend an economic conference on the southern Chinese island, Hainan.