News / Asia

Japanese Ministers Visit Controversial War Shrine

Japan's Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Yuichiro Hata (2nd L) and other lawmakers are led by a Shinto priest after offering prayers to war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, August 15, 2012.
Japan's Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Yuichiro Hata (2nd L) and other lawmakers are led by a Shinto priest after offering prayers to war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, August 15, 2012.
Two Japanese cabinet ministers have visited a controversial war shrine seen by many as a symbol of Tokyo's imperialist past, in a move likely to anger neighboring China and South Korea.

National Public Safety Commission Chairman Jin Matsubara and Land Minister Yuichiro Hata on Wednesday paid homage at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including some convicted of war crimes.

The visit, which comes on the 67th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, is the first by a cabinet minister since the Democratic Party came to power in 2009, pledging improved relations with Tokyo's Asian neighbors.

Though economic ties between Seoul and Tokyo are strong, anti-Japan sentiment is widespread in South Korea. Japan imposed harsh colonial rule on South Korea and parts of China during much of the first half of last century.

Regional tensions

Facts about Tokyo's controversial 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
Relations between South Korea and Japan worsened last week after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a surprise visit to a group of rocky islands claimed by both countries. The islands, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, are thought to be surrounded by potential energy deposits. Following Mr. Lee's visit, Tokyo recalled its ambassador to Seoul.

On Wednesday, President Lee said in a speech that Japan is a "close neighbor" and "friend," but said certain aspects of their mutual history is "hampering the common march toward a better tomorrow." Mr. Lee renewed his call for Japan to compensate Korean women forced into sex slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Japan says compensation for the so-called "comfort women" was already covered in a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations.

At a memorial in Tokyo, Japanese leaders including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda offered silent prayers for war victims. In his speech, Mr. Noda acknowledged that Japan regrets inflicting "significant damage on many countries, especially on people in Asian countries." On Tuesday, President Lee insisted that Japan's Emperor Akihito would have to sincerely apologize for its colonial rule if he wants to visit South Korea.

Beijing has also signaled opposition to the Japanese shrine visit. The state-controlled China Daily says the move risks "putting hard-won diplomatic relations with China in jeopardy." Japan-China relations have also been tested by competing claims to a group of uninhabited islands in the energy-rich East China Sea.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
August 15, 2012 11:35 PM
shame on Japan still worship war criminals! what a disgusting behaviour of Japanese government and monarch.

Japan must remove those war criminals from the shrine and seriously apologize for what Japan did in WWII. If it doesn't do it then I wouldn't have any sympathy to the nuke bombing on its land. And I will wish it got more in the future.

by: Frank from: USA
August 15, 2012 4:39 PM
What can anyone say about anything when they keep going back to that shrine for murderers? Just how can you have any discussion with that going on and think anything positive can come out of it? That craziness needs to stop.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs