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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.

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

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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs