News / Asia

Seoul Summons Japan Ambassador over Visits to War Shrine

South Korean conservative right-wing protesters chant slogans during an anti-Japan rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, April 25, 2013.
South Korean conservative right-wing protesters chant slogans during an anti-Japan rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, April 25, 2013.
VOA News
South Korea has summoned Japan's ambassador in Seoul to protest recent visits by Japanese lawmakers and officials to a controversial shrine seen by many as a symbol of Tokyo's colonial past.

More than 160 lawmakers paid their respects at the Yasukuni Shrine on Wednesday. Three government ministers made a similar visit to the Shinto site in Tokyo last week.

The shrine honors 2.5 million of Japan's war dead, including some convicted war criminals from World War II. South Korea and China, which bore the brunt of Japan's aggression, regularly protest such visits.

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun said Thursday that Japan's ambassador was summoned to receive a protest about the visits and subsequent comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"We can't understand that Japan is closing its eyes and ears to the history of invasion and colonial rule," said Kim. "Our government has been trying to open a bright future while putting the past behind.  So we can't help but feel extremely regretful."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Abe dismissed the criticism, saying his government will not "yield to any kind of intimidation." Japan's Kyodo news agency quotes him as saying it is only natural to "express one's respect and worship to precious souls of war dead."

China also lodged "solemn representations" to Japan about the visit. A foreign ministry spokesperson says Japanese leaders should learn to "respect the feelings of the people of China and other victimized countries."

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended the visits, pointing out that past Japanese governments have apologized for their country's past.

"At one point, our nation caused great pain and suffering to many nations, especially people in Asian nations, in the war," he said. "Japanese governments have accepted these historical facts sincerely and have expressed our deepest remorse and heartfelt apologies."

The issue has further complicated Japan's already complex relationships with South Korea and China.

Tokyo-Beijing ties have dropped to their lowest point in years because of a recent flare-up in a long-standing dispute about a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Separately, South Korea and Japan are engaged in a dispute about a Seoul-controlled island group in the Sea of Japan.

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Comment Sorting
by: Korea-philia from: Japan
April 25, 2013 7:06 AM
Both Korea and Japan have a pride. Korean people regard the annexation by Japan as dishonor. Japanese people regard President Lee's landing on the Japan's inherent territory "Takeshima" as insult and his terms to his Imperial Majesty as rudeness (corresponding to a so-called "High-Crime"). The reason why Japan was compelled to annex Korea is unambiguous to the people who have learned the truthful world history, i.e., Russia's go-southward policy. In Korea at that time, Korean imperial family members were exclusively engaged in struggle for power, and it was obvious that if that situation had been left as it was, Russia's big appetite would have swallowed Korea.

If Korea had been swallowed by Russia, Japan also would have been occupied by Russia. Therefore, Japan involuntarily annexed Korea after consulting with the world community (especially, US and G.B,). Still now, Koreans hold grudge against the annexation by Japan. They should realize that they are happy because not being under the rule of Russia. Holding persisting grudge is one of the conspicuous characteristics of Koreans; however holding grudge does not lead to "Global Korea". It is a blessed relief that most of intelligent Korean people appreciate the annexation by Japan in a calm manner. Both nations should not be in a cat-and-dog relation but be aware of who is real enemy of both countries.
In Response

by: Sasuke Uchiha from: United States of America
April 25, 2013 10:46 AM
South Korean and Japanese and White and Black and Spanish,and the other are humans in the world. I don't care about racism! Our humans are better in the world.

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