News / Asia

Japan's Abe Visits Controversial War Shrine

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a controversial visit to a war shrine that many of Japan's neighbors see as a symbol of its militaristic past.
 
Abe said his early Thursday visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine was not meant to hurt the feelings of Japan's neighbors, but is a pledge that Tokyo will not go to war again.
 
"I… prayed for the resting of the souls of all the people whose lives were taken by war. Additionally, I vowed for a renunciation of war and I was emboldened to create an era where people's lives would not be engulfed and pained by the misery of war," said Abe.
 
China foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang immediately slammed the move as "absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people," and demanded Tokyo "reflect on its history of aggression."
 
"The Chinese government expresses strong outrage and protest and solemnly condemns Japanese leaders ruthlessly trampling the feelings of the Chinese people and people of other war-affected Asian countries and bluntly challenging historical justice and human conscience," said Qin.
 
The Xinhua news agency also said China will "make solemn representations" in Beijing and Tokyo on Thursday to protest the visit.

South Korea's minister of culture, sports and tourism, Yoo Jinryong, labeled the move as "anachronistic" and said it will hurt South Korea-Japan ties.

The U.S., a strong ally of Tokyo, said in a statement via its embassy in Japan that it is "disappointed" the country's leaders have undertaken an action that will "exacerbate tensions" with its neighbors.
 
Michael Cucek with the MIT Center for International Studies in Tokyo told VOA the move likely sets back any efforts that have been made to improve relations between China and Japan.

"It's going to put everything at the bottom of the sea. It is absolutely a slap in the face to all of the people who have been working behind the scenes or formally trying to bring the governments of the region together. It's saying, 'I don't care,'" said Cucek.
 
Beijing has long maintained that Tokyo has failed to properly atone for its brutal 1930s invasion of large parts of China. It views visits by Japanese leaders to Yasukuni as evidence it has not repented.
 
Yasukuni honors Japan's nearly 2.5 million war dead, including 14 convicted World War II war criminals. Japanese leaders regularly visit the Tokyo facility, but this will be the first time since 2006 that a sitting prime minister has done so.
 
Abe, who is known for his hawkish views, has sent ritual offerings to the shrine. He also has said he regrets not visiting during his first term as prime minister, which ended in 2007.
 
His visit comes exactly one year after he ascended to Japan's top political post. It also came on the sensitive 120th anniversary of the birthday of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China.
 
China-Japan ties have also worsened recently because of a bitter dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
 
Abe has accused China of using its rising military power to change the status quo of the Japan-controlled islands. He also plans to increase Japan's defense spending and revise its pacifist constitution to allow for what he calls a "proactive peace policy."
 
During his visit Thursday, Abe said he hoped to "continue friendly relations" with China as well as South Korea, another victim of Japanese imperialist aggression that regular complains about Yasukuni visits.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid