News / Asia

China Outraged as Japanese Lawmakers Visit WWII Shrine

Group of Japanese lawmakers sip sake as they observe a Shinto ritual, Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Oct. 18, 2013.
Group of Japanese lawmakers sip sake as they observe a Shinto ritual, Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo, Oct. 18, 2013.
Reuters
— A Japanese minister and more than 100 other lawmakers visited the Yasukuni Shrine for war dead on Friday, prompting China to accuse Japan of undermining ties and trying to overturn the post-World War Two order.
 
China summoned Tokyo's ambassador in Beijing to express its anger and South Korea also criticized the lawmakers' action.
 
The visits, marking an autumn festival, came a day after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his third ritual offering to the shrine since returning to office last year, though he did not visit it in person.
 
Abe has stayed away from the shrine in central Tokyo, where war criminals are honored along with other war dead, to avoid further straining ties with China and South Korea, both victims of Japan's militarism before its surrender in 1945.
 
"The Yasukuni Shrine is a symbol and spiritual tool of Japanese militarism," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing.
 
"It consecrates monstrous crimes committed against Asia's victimized peoples, including those in China, by 14 Class A war criminals... This is a major matter of principle bearing on the foundation of Sino-Japanese relations."
 
The visits, she said, were another attempt to whitewash Japan's history "and challenge the end result of World War Two, as well as the post-war international order."
 
China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin summoned Masato Kitera, Japan's ambassador to China, to "lodge solemn representations" over the visits, said Hua.
 
As well as Japan's war dead, Yasukuni also honors Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, making it a painful reminder to nations that suffered from Japanese aggression in the 20th century.
 
Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo was the most senior of about 160 lawmakers to visit the shrine to mark the festival, which runs until Sunday. A deputy chief cabinet secretary also went.
 
"I visited the shrine in a private capacity," Shindo said, noting that his grandfather is honored there. "I do not think this should become a diplomatic issue."
 
Sino-Japanese ties have been overshadowed for years by what China says has been Japan's refusal to admit to atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in China between 1931 and 1945.
 
Territorial disputes
 
Memories of a brutal Japanese occupation also remain strong in South Korea, where the Foreign Ministry repeated its view that Japanese lawmakers should stay away from the shrine.
 
"We urge Japanese politicians to show speech and actions based on humble introspection and reflection of the past that will help build trust with its neighboring countries," the South Korean ministry said in a statement.
 
Japan's deputy chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said he had also visited the shrine in a private capacity.
 
"I think that it's only natural to pray for the repose of the souls of people who have given their precious lives for the nation," Kato told a news conference.
 
Ties between Tokyo and Beijing have been fraught for months because of a territorial dispute over islets in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.
 
Japan's relations with South Korea have cooled over a separate territorial dispute.
 
Abe is seen as a hawkish nationalist with a conservative agenda that includes revising the post-war pacifist constitution, strengthening Japan's defense posture and recasting wartime history with a less apologetic tone.
 
He has said he regretted not visiting the shrine when he was prime minister in 2006-2007.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Juan from: China
October 20, 2013 10:44 PM
China and Korea should get over on what happened in WW2. The CCP killed more Chinese and Korean than Japanese so why is china keeps on living in the pass and don't want to even mention tianamen square massacre to it people.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
October 20, 2013 8:20 PM
It almost has been an annual event that Japanese lawmakers visit Yasukuni and China and SK condemn their visits. Just after the event, it goes as susual as if China and SK forgottened it and there happened nothing. Yesterday it is reported that Chinese government gathered tens of thousands of journalists around the land and orderd them to intensify reports of anti-Japan campaigns. What does this mean? China looks aiming to use this visit for propaganda to get any benefit on the territorial disputes. Asking the responsibility of Japan concerning the WWII seems merely the political strategy of China.


by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
October 19, 2013 8:38 PM
Just to make some less educated ppl to understand it better, imagine what if German government worships Hitler in a church, how would you feel?
You think ppl won't make some NOISE to against it? Because Hitler has died for a long time, so worshiping him will be allowed?
Time to teach Japan a lesson!


by: Zayin Zakar from: Mexico
October 19, 2013 6:58 AM
You know these are war dead. Yes, there are some criminals buried there, as there are in many cemeteries across the world. And though these people are long gone and the world a different place, it would seem forgiveness as per usual is a short coming in most humans on the planet. No one has forgot what they did, not least the Japanese people, or the Germans for that matter. So, I can't help but think those vociferous people raising all the noise are doing it more for propaganda's sake. Since the worlds media is being used as a tool to focus hate, which seems to come so naturally. Let us remember the Japanese have been willing participants in demilitarization and abstaining from nuclear weapons. Whilst China has done the reverse and has been more than amply compensated by Japanese technology in a fashion similar to the US aiding Japan after the war via technology transfer. This is more propaganda and brinkmanship to leverage the territorial battle of the high seas. Anyone who's visited China would realize they're the ones beating the war drums with regards Japan. Japan are starting to dig their heels, as the threats from loony town in N. Korea and China are getting louder.
This is where cultural beliefs clash with politics and people get the wrong signals form assumptions and then you have a powder keg moment. Just a reminder to those of you who believe in a GOD; doesn't say love thy enemy and forgive and pray for the dead?


by: Nick from: Chicago
October 18, 2013 3:13 PM
Look at those animals open worshiping the Shrine, a ghostly symbal for WWII criminals. They do not know how to respect the WWII victims and still continue to encouage the return of the evil imperial army. It is shame to Japanese government and Abe. In fact, Abe being a famous family WWII war criminal will be more favor to go there.

In Response

by: JamesP from: Burbank
October 18, 2013 10:28 PM
I assume you didn't realise that the Yasukuni shrine doesn't only hold the graves of military personal but also other victims of the war, such as civilian and child evacuees from Okinawa as well as POWs. Hope you do not consider visitors of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial animals as well, since many Vietnamese also did not have good memories about that war, especially with the lingering effects of landmines and Agent Orange.

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