Abe avoids war shrine visit, sends of­fer­ing

The Myanmar Times - - World -

JA­PANESE Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe sent a rit­ual do­na­tion to a con­tro­ver­sial war shrine in Tokyo yes­ter­day – the 71st an­niver­sary of Ja­pan’s de­feat in World War II – but avoided vis­it­ing in an ap­par­ent nod to China and South Korea.

Ya­sukuni Shrine hon­ours mil­lions of mostly Ja­panese war dead, as well as se­nior mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal fig­ures con­victed of war crimes after the war.

The in­dige­nous Shinto re­li­gious shrine has for decades been a flash­point for crit­i­cism by coun­tries that suf­fered from Ja­pan’s colo­nial­ism and ag­gres­sion in the first half of the 20th cen­tury.

Mr Abe vis­ited in De­cem­ber 2013 to mark his first year in power, a pil­grim­age that sparked fury in Bei­jing and Seoul and earned a diplo­matic re­buke from the United States, a close ally, which said it was “dis­ap­pointed” by the ac­tion.

He and other na­tion­al­ists say the shrine is merely a place to re­mem­ber fallen sol­diers. They com­pare it with burial grounds, such as Arlington Na­tional Ceme­tery in the US.

But he has since re­frained from go­ing and re­ac­tions by China and South Korea to Ya­sukuni vis­its by min­is­ters and law­mak­ers, while re­main­ing crit­i­cal, have be­come less in­tense.

Mr Abe sent the of­fer­ing yes­ter­day as pres­i­dent of the rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party – not as prime min­is­ter – in an ap­par­ent bid to lessen any crit­i­cism.

Ya­su­toshi Nishimura, a party aide to Mr Abe, made the do­na­tion on his be­half. –

Photo: AFP

Shinzo Abe speaks at Ya­sukuni Shrine in 2013.

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