News / Asia

Japanese Ministers War Shrine Visit Upsets Neighbors

Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso (2nd R) bows as he visits the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, in this photo provided by Kyodo, April 21, 2013.
Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso (2nd R) bows as he visits the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, in this photo provided by Kyodo, April 21, 2013.
Japan's neighbors are reacting angrily to visits by cabinet ministers in Tokyo to a controversial war shrine.
 
South Korea's foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, has canceled a trip to Tokyo that had been set for this week.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said South Korea expresses “deep concern and regret” over the recent visits by Japanese officials to a Shinto shrine in Tokyo.
 
Cho said the Yasukuni shrine “glorifies an invasion that inflicted great loss and suffering on Japan's neighbors.”
 
Japan's deputy prime minister, Taro Aso, visited Yasukuni on Sunday. Aso also serves as finance minister and is a former prime minister.

Two other Cabinet ministers also visited the controversial shrine.
 
Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, known for his nationalistic views, did not visit but sent a $500 donation in his name for a tree (cleyera japonica) branch altar decoration.
 
The Yasukuni shrine honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead - including 14 people convicted as Class-A war criminals following the end of World War II.
 
Countries which were subject to Japan's brutal colonization in the first half of the 20th century view Yasukuni as an enduring symbol of Japanese imperialism.

Speaking at a daily news briefing, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry called on Tokyo to "face up to its history of nationalistic aggression."

Hua Chunying, reacting to the Yasukuni visits, said only when Japan is able to deeply understand its past history and respect the feelings of the victims of its colonialism will it be able to "develop a cooperative relationship with other Asian countries."
 
The Chinese communist party's newspaper is condemning the prime minister's offering to the shrine. The People's Daily says regardless of what form worship at Yasukuni takes, it demonstrates a “wrong-headed view of history that deals a great blow to peace and stability” in Asia.
 
Japanese officials are attempting to downplay the significance of the visits to the shrine.
 
The Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the government is not taking a position on personal religious visits made by officials.
 
Suga said each country is entitled to its position on this, but the ministers' visits should not affect diplomacy.
 
Tomohiko Taniguchi, councilor at the Cabinet Secretariat in the Japanese prime minister's office, elaborates on this, saying the appearances of the officials at the shrine are being misconstrued.
 
“From my personal perspective it is the shrine not for cherishing aggression of any sort. It is the place for people to pay homage to those people who died, lost their lives, during the wars," he said. "What you saw done by some of the members of the Japanese Cabinet were the actions taken by those individuals in no way representing the Japanese government's official views.”
 
Visits by government officials in previous Japanese cabinets have sparked similar diplomatic protests from Seoul and Beijing.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Thang from: Vietnam
April 25, 2013 1:26 AM
I don't know why Japanese are asked for stopping visiting there. I know some people were sentenced as war criminals, but what should a person do if his father kills someone and then was sentenced to death??? He should not visit his father's tomb after that???

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
April 24, 2013 5:51 PM
This is my question, regardess concering the matters between Japan and China, how and by whom the justice of war is determined. Is not it executed always by the rules of winners ? In other words, winners are justice?

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
April 24, 2013 4:15 AM
This is the fact that general Japanese seldom visit Yasukuni shrine and much less worship those who convicted as war criminals. A main reason why not a few cabinet members visit the shrine is that they expect votes on this summer election from fallen soldiers' family members who are markedly interested in the existence of the Shrine.

by: SEATO
April 22, 2013 9:15 AM
Did the Chinese government care about the Vietnamese people's feelings when they organised yearly commemoration of those PLA solders who lost their lives during the 1979 invasion of North Vietnam when thousands of Vietnamese were butchered ,raped and 6 whole provinces were razed to the ground? Imperialist China has committed far worse crimes than Imperial Japan and still doing it now in Tibet and Xinjang
In Response

by: oldlamb from: China
April 25, 2013 5:04 AM
Tibet and Xinjang have been attached to China for more than 300 years as two provinces since Qing dynasty.It is different concept.please peruse history. Dalai lama was a senior official in China's MingGuo dynasty.
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
April 24, 2013 3:58 PM
to oldlamb,
So it is just for China to invade Tibet; kill innocent Vietnamese fishermen whose ancestors have been fishing in Vietnam's Paracel and Spratly islands for centuries.
Vietnamese women and old men kicked PRC ass in 1979 and taught China a lesson.
In Response

by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou China
April 24, 2013 4:59 AM
There are huge diffrent bettwen China and Japan.It's justical war that China beat Vietname in1979.But the war which Japan invaded Asian 60 years ago was unjust.This is international viewpiont.
In Response

by: Remie from: Canada
April 23, 2013 7:23 AM
@seattle, Hoa people were a threat? That is more of the PLA lies. If that was the case why did they not finish the invasion? Because they wanted to steal land little by little like china has always done to their nieghbours. They lost that little war and yet told their people they won. Also, if it was to stop the persecution of the Hoa people How did that invasion help? China should stop their barbaric and sneaky ways.
In Response

by: SEATTLE
April 22, 2013 11:48 AM
To SEATO: I'm from China and I've never heard of the "yearly commemoration of PLA soldiers" killed in 1979. Is that something you made up or it's my ignorance? In fact, lots of Chinese have now realized that the 1979 war was not fought a war of "defense", as the gov't claimed. Though the persecution of ethnic Hoa people in Vietnam at that time was a real issue.

by: Tom Kinney from: Flint, Michigan, US
April 22, 2013 5:36 AM
I would be quite angry if my government tried to isolate an old enemy over religious practice. If enough pressure is applied to Japan they may begin to re-militarize.
In Response

by: Lucky from: China
April 23, 2013 2:06 AM
Also Japanese are discussing whether to establish the constitution to let them own a Real army that incur Chinese antipathy.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 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.

VOA Blogs

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