Tokyo, December 27 – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the war-linked Yasukuni shrine on Thursday despite strong opposition from neighbouring countries.
It is the first time in seven years that a sitting Japanese prime minister visited the shrine. Former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi had visited the shrine in August 2006, Xinhua reported.
The visit, which marked the first anniversary of Abe’s taking office as the prime minister, triggered strong opposition from neighbouring China and South Korea. China and undivided Korea then suffered a lot due to Japan’s aggression during the World War II.
China strongly condemns the Japanese leader’s visit to Yasukuni shrine, said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Thursday. It would deeply hurt the feelings of Asian war victims, Qin added.
The shrine is a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism as 14 war criminals, who were convicted by an allied tribunal after the war, were enshrined there.
Abe’s provocative move would drag Japan’s already-fragile relations with neighbouring countries into an abyss, and damage the efforts by the international community to dispel the shadow of militarism.
Repeated visits to the shrine by Japanese ministers and lawmakers have become a major obstacle for Japan to mend its ties with China and South Korea.