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.
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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs