FROM THE PRESS
It had been seven years since a sitting Japanese prime minister visited the Yasukuni Shrine, a recognition at the highest levels that the site is symbolically repugnant to China and South Korea and that such a visit is detrimental to relations with them ... Abe’s ultimate goal was to rewrite Japan’s pacifist Constitution, which restricts the right to go to war, it said, adding it was a move of which Japanese Emperor Akihito disapproved. Hideki Tojo and 13 other “class A” war criminals from the Imperial Army’s darkest days. Criticism flowed quickly from China, South Korea and the United States — a strange coalition that highlights the enduring delicacy of East Asian politics nearly 70 years after World War II. By visiting Yasukuni, Abe has made it clear that he does not intend to back down from a diplomatic and even military confrontation with South Korea and China over the issue of whitewashing his country’s wartime atrocities, Tokyo’s flimsy colonial claim to South Korea’s Dokdo islets and other territorial issues. It is obvious that he will push ahead with his rightwing agenda at all costs. If the prime minister visits it (Yasukuni Shrine), he cannot escape criticism that he is affirming its historical recognition. Still, if he visits the shrine in defiance of such criticisms, his act is nothing less than a declaration of intent to turn his back to the postwar course followed by the Japanese people who vowed never to make war while mourning the war dead. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine has stirred Japan’s relations with China and South Korea. ...The situation has stalled, with a path to improving relations nowhere in sight. Bilateral summit meetings between Japan and each of the two countries have not been held since May last year.