News / Asia

Japanese Cabinet Ministers Visit Yasukuni War Shrine

Members of the nationalist movement
Members of the nationalist movement "Ganbare Nippon" holding Japanese national flags march while paying tribute to the war dead near Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, August 15, 2013, on the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.
VOA News
Two Japanese Cabinet ministers have visited a controversial Shinto shrine that honors the country's war dead, prompting an angry reaction from South Korea and China.

Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine

  • Shinto shrine built in 1869 to enshrine the souls of around 2.5 million war dead
  • Commemorates 14 men convicted of war crimes after Japan's World War II surrender
  • Seen by many Asians as symbol of Japan's brutal imperialistic era
  • Has become a rallying point for some conservative Japanese lawmakers
Public visits by Japanese officials to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine regularly draw ire from Seoul and Beijing, which were two of the main victims of Japan's aggression in the first half of the 20th century.

China summoned Japan's ambassador to protest the visit. Beijing's foreign ministry said the move "seriously harms the feelings" of the Chinese people.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye called on Tokyo to face up to history and take "sincere measures" to alleviate the pain of those who are scarred by history.

Thursday's visit came on the anniversary of Japan's 1945 surrender in World War II.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided against a visit on the anniversary, out of concerns it could further worsen ties with Japan's neighbors. But he did send an aide to deliver an offering at the shrine.

"I asked my special aide [Koichi] Hagiuda to make the offering on my behalf with a feeling of gratitude and respect for those who fought and gave their precious lives for their country," Abe said.

The prime minister, who is known for his hawkish foreign policy, has said in the past that he regrets not visiting Yasukuni during his first term in 2006.

Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
x
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
The Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including some convicted war criminals from WWII.

 Abe and others have argued that it should not be controversial for Japanese leaders to honor the country's fallen soldiers. He also points out that Tokyo has apologized for its past crimes.

Keiji Furuya, a Cabinet minister who paid respects at the shrine Thursday, said such visits should not be seen as a provocation.

"Paying homage to the war dead is a purely domestic matter and it's not for other countries to criticize, use or intervene in these matters," Furuya said.

The issue has been further complicated by Japan's more recent territorial disputes with China and South Korea.

Tokyo-Beijing relations have plummeted because of a recent flare up in a dispute over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Prime Minister Abe has called for dialogue with China over the issue. But such efforts have not progressed.

South Korea and Japan are engaged in a dispute about an island group Seoul controls in the Sea of Japan.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tama from: Japan
August 15, 2013 6:00 PM
The leaders of other countries visit the national cemetery park, such as Arlington, as well as Yasukuni. What is the problem for Japan, compared to other countries?

For your information, the other Asian leaders except China and Korea admit Japanese ministers' visiting Yasukuni. China and Korea are very special in the Asia.

And even so-called the war criminals were human beings and deceased by the war as well, so their souls are included and worshiped as our deities. You should set all souls free from any arguments. I wish you would become a little gentle. Yasukuni is a cemetery.
In Response

by: Doala
August 20, 2013 9:13 PM
Yasukuni is a 150 year old Shinto shrine. Why would a foreigner intervene in the way the Japanese people commemorate their servicemen of over 2.46 million? Political and religious leaders from many countries, including President Lee of Taiwan, have visited the shrine, and complaints about Yasukuni come only from China and Korea.

Included in the 2.46 million are the spirits of approx 20,000 ethnic Korean soldiers. More than 800,000 Koreans applied to enlist in the Imperial Japanese Army although only 17,000 were accepted. Koreans were not forced to serve in the IJA. Lt. Gen. Hong Sa-Ik, who commanded many Japanese officers and soldiers, was prosecuted as a B Class war criminal after WWII. Officers or soldiers, those enshrined in Yasukuni sacrificed their lives for their country.

Despite the popular belief, Yasukuni does not keep a single spirit tablet, used in practicing Buddhism. I've also recently learned that the spirit tablets of the 1,068 "war criminals" of the IJA have been housed in Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica since May1980, when John Paul II held a special mass for them. The Yasukuni controversy involving China, Korea, and Japan started around 1983 and it's been 30 years since then. It's time China and Korea stop this unfruitful campaign.
In Response

by: Lemon Tree from: Korea
August 17, 2013 9:47 AM
To Tama from Japan.
You asked what is the problem for Japan. I think there are many problems especially problems with Korea.
Japan did not admit that Dokdo is a part of Korean territory although there are many references that shows Dokdo is a part of Korean territory.
Japan did not apologize that they killed and injured Koreans while Germany did.
Japan also distorted the history and Japan is teaching them to their students. Why are you??????
You said China and Korea are very special in Asia. What do you mean? China and Korea are not very friendly with Japan so you said that China and Korea are special?
PLEASE. Do not wish WE will be gentle unless YOU will be gentle first.
You see that I am Korean and I am really angry about this.
LONG LIVE KOREA!!!

by: jonathan huang from: canada
August 15, 2013 11:48 AM
for your information there are WWII war criminals worshiped in this shrine! those war criminals were not war victims at all!
Shame on Japan! you gonna pay for your foolishness!

by: Tama from: Japan
August 15, 2013 9:16 AM
For your information, in the Yasukuni Shrine, there is a special tomb for Amerian soldiers deceased in WWII. That is an evicdence that Japan always shows respects to all victims in the wars. Incidentally, the latest public opinion poll says "PM of Japan should visit the Yasukuni shrine and show condolences to the soles of the soldiers deceased as the leader of the nation" that is the majority.
In Response

by: KC from: America
August 15, 2013 11:57 AM
This is fooling the world to pay visit for the deceased war deads along with the other 2 .5 millions war deads who invaded other countries to commit countless atrocities. Japan deserved to eat two bombs and more to come in future definitely to be wiped off from the world map. The nuclear accident in Fukushima was a warning from God's punishment to this stupid nation.
In Response

by: Tama from: Japan
August 15, 2013 9:58 AM
P.S. All Japanese people worship such souls of the deceased as gods or deities to protect the society. Needless to say, such the gods (the souls of the deceased) in the Yasukuni are consist of not only Japanese but also American and Korean; Japan and Korea were allies at the time of WWII, and the enemy was the US.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs