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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More