It was a 30 minute visit to a controversial shrine by Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe; that’s all it took to ignite a predictable firestorm of
criticism and condemnation from Japan’s neighbors.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he visited Yasukuni Shrine to
pay his respects to those who died for their country and to renew a
pledge for Japan not to go to war again.
Mr. Abe explained:
“I wanted to pray for the souls of the war dead, not honor war
criminals. I want to pray for everyone. I have renewed my determination
before the souls of the war dead to firmly uphold the pledge never to
wage a war again”
While visiting the Shinto shrine on Thursday he also paid a visit to the Chinreisha shrine inside the Yasukuni Jinja compound.
“This shrine is for all those who fell in battle grounds, including
people of other countries who are not honored at the main shrine”, Mr.
“I have no intention whatsoever of hurting the feelings of the people of
South Korea and China. It is a common attitude of leaders around the
world to pray for the souls of those who died fighting in wars and
leaving behind their loved ones. I will continue to explain to all the
countries that my shrine visit has no other meaning”
Abe’s visit came exactly a year after he took office, during which time
he has received the cold shoulder from both Chinese President Xi Jinping
and South Korean President Park Geun-hye during regional conferences.
Abe’s Explaination’s Not Enough
Seoul said it was furious with the “deplorable” act, and Beijing
labelled the visit “absolutely unacceptable” and summoned Japan’s
US officials said the visit would “exacerbate tensions” in the region.
“Japan is a valued ally and friend, nevertheless, the United States is
disappointed that Japan’s leadership has taken an action that will
exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors”, U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Beijing seriously
condemned the visit.
“This poses a major political obstacle in the improvement of bilateral
relations. Japan must take responsibility for all the consequences that
this creates,” he said.
Japan occupied Taiwan, the Korean peninsula and much of China.
During World War Two Japanese imperial forces committed atrocities
throughout East and South East Asia, killing over 20milion people,
including the use of Korean women as sex slaves and carrying out
massacres in China.
“Honoring the shrine is, in its essence, embellishing and falsely
beautifying Japan’s military invasion and colonization”, South Korean
Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism said.
Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Japan’s Temple University,
said Japan has made its history into an issue when it should be seeking
the cooperation of China and South Korea in dealing with the threat
North Korea poses.