News / Asia

Japan's Abe Condemned for Visit to Controversial War Shrine

Japan's Abe Condemned for Visit to Controversial War Shrinei
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December 26, 2013
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine Thursday, sparking outrage in China and South Korea and further damaging Japan's already frosty relations with the region.
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Daniel Schearf
— Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine Thursday, sparking outrage in China and South Korea and further damaging Japan's already frosty relations with the region. Yasukuni shrine honors the country's nearly 2.5 million war dead, including convicted World War II war criminals.
 
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, JapanYasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
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Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
Abe said his visit was a personal one to honor the spirits of the dead and was not meant to hurt Chinese or Korean sentiments. He said his presence was meant to show Japan was against war.
 
Nonetheless, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang responded sharply to Abe's action.
 
Qin said the Chinese government wished to express strong outrage and protest, and solemnly condemns Japanese leaders ruthlessly trampling the feelings of Chinese people, and people of other war-affected Asian countries, and bluntly challenging historical justice and human conscience.
 
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an un-named government official saying the shrine visit would have diplomatic repercussions.
 
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 a symbol of Japan's brutal imperialistic era
  • Has become a rallying point for some conservative Japanese lawmakers
Since taking office a year ago, Abe has sought summit meetings with the new leaders in China and South Korea. However, both Beijing and Seoul have shunned the Japanese prime minister, blaming him for trying to re-interpret Japan's colonial and war time history.
 
Japan's neighbors are also concerned about Abe's plans to change the country’s pacifist constitution to expand the role of Japan's self-defense forces.
 
South Korea's Minister of Culture, Yoo Jin-ryong, read a short statement on live TV on behalf of the government, in which he said Abe’s trip to the Yasukuni shrine shows his incorrect understanding of history. He also said that the visit was an anachronistic action which damages fundamental stability and cooperation in Northeast Asia.
 
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe follows a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows beside a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe follows a Shinto priest to pay respect for the war dead at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Visitors hang fortune blessing papers at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Dec. 26, 2013.

Abe is the first sitting prime minister to visit the shrine since 2006, when Junichiro Koizumi went to pay respects. Koizumi’s frequent trips to Yasukuni fueled anti-Japanese sentiment and rioting in China.
 
To help repair relations, Abe declined to visit the shrine during his first term in office (2006-2007) or in August to mark the anniversary of Japan's surrender.
 
It is not clear why he chose to visit Yasakuni now when Japan's relations in Northeast Asia are at a low point over territorial disputes and historical grievances.
 
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo expressed disappointment with Abe's action and said it will worsen tensions with Japan's neighbors.
 
VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

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Comments page of 2
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by: Patrick from: USA
December 26, 2013 8:07 AM
As an American who actually knows history, there is absolutely the grain of truth to Japan's memorial stating that they were forced into war with the US due to economic sanctions and our refusal to sell Japan oil and scrap steel.

While no one can condone Japan's wartime aggression, I can condone Japanese leaders honoring the men who sacrificed themselves with absolute reckless bravery for their emperor, who had religious significance to them. RIP brave enemy

In Response

by: Greg from: Michigan
December 26, 2013 8:16 PM
Perhaps you need to read more history, read about what the Japs did in the Nanking Massacre against the Chinese people and tell me if you can condone that?

In Response

by: Sing from: USA
December 26, 2013 2:04 PM
They can take out the name of those 14 class A war criminals and may be then it is ok in your sense. Also take out all the members of 731. Read some more history to better educated on this subject. Abe is a Imperialistic Japs not surprise he did this but Americans better watch him closer of not letting him dragged USA to war in Asia.


by: No Tongsuland from: Japan
December 26, 2013 7:03 AM
I'm afraid this article is written by a S. Korean. If so, it is a little unfair. It is the common sense for Japanese the Yasukuni Shrine was built in honor of the souls of the deceased soldiers. All souls of the deceased including Koreans', Americans' and my grandfather's are equally worshiped there as gods. We, Japanese, are really fair to every soul regardless of origin or cread. So, we could hardly understand the reasons why S. Korea and China strongly are provoking Japan this time. Leaders of other countries usually visit and show respect to the souls of the patriots, don't they? Praying for peace is a very business of a national leader, isn't it? Today, Japan just became a normal country!

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 26, 2013 9:34 AM
You should learn more from Germans.

In Response

by: peterma from: China
December 26, 2013 9:17 AM
Who provokes whom? We, the victims of those war criminals are outrageously provoked~ We, Chinese, Koreans as well as many many other Asians who were once tortured or killed mercilessly by those cold animals were severely hurt by your ignorance of other peoples' feelings ~~~think about it~don't whitewash your history, ok?


by: Samurai from: Japan
December 26, 2013 6:54 AM
Who has the right to stop a person from paying respects to the war dead? Almost 70 years has elapsed since the end of World War II. Let's not make wrong use of the alleged war criminals who are enshrined along with other fallen soldiers. Who can name such leaders of a defeated country "war criminals"? I believe that the real war criminals are such leaders who massacred former inhabitants, other small tribes, or even tens of millions of their own nationals.

In Response

by: Sing from: USA
December 26, 2013 2:11 PM
Asian need person like Simon Wiesenthal for the persecution of war criminals still living in Japan no matter they are 90 years old! Or even if they are with a feeding tube. What is right is right and wrong is wrong! No time limits on war criminals send them to jail or hang them high.

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 26, 2013 9:40 AM
You are foolish on the history of WORD WAR II.Do you know anything about INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL FAR EAST,Tokyo Trials?

In Response

by: George from: China
December 26, 2013 9:27 AM
Just imagine the premier of Gemany pay respects to Hitler, what will happen in Europe.


by: peter from: China
December 26, 2013 6:35 AM
The world should pay close attention to what is happening in the Japanese politics. It may trigger a new dangerous situation in Asia and the world. Japan is a not a reliable neighbor which never admits the mistake he committed in World War II.

In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
December 26, 2013 6:02 PM
Japan has the right to strengthen its military against Chinese aggression. Who is the aggressor? China claim 80% of East Sea, invaded Tibet, killing innocent Vietnamese fishermen in Vietnam's waters, annexed territories from its weaker neighbours by sneaky tactics.
Vietnamese were also victims of Japanese cruelty in world war 2. But Japan today is different than the Japan during word war 2. Vietnamese do not have any hatred for the Japanese like the Chinese and Koreans. At least the Japanese had the courage to go to war with big powers and showed loyalty to their country. Japan has the right to pay respect to their war dead. Japan can no longer depend on the U.S. to protect them as the U.S. has economic interests with China.

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