PM of Japan says may drop formal WWII apology
Japan’s leader Shinzo Abe drew sharp rebukes from mainland China and South Korea Tuesday after sending an offering to a controversial war shrine, and saying he may not repeat a formal apology for his country’s World War II rampage.
Abe, an unabashed nationalist, made a symbolic donation to Yasukuni Shrine, the supposed repository of the country’s war dead including 14 infamous war criminals.
The gift of a sakaki tree — sacred in Shintoism — appeared to indicate that Abe would not visit Yasukuni during a three-day Spring festival which began Tuesday.
But Beijing and Seoul, which see the shrine as a symbol of Japan’s lack of repentance for wartime wrongdoing, were angered by the offering at a time when the focus is increasingly on a statement Abe will make marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
to see whether he will make direct reference to his country’s “colonial rule and aggression” and express “remorse” and apologies, as previous premiers did on the 50th and 60th anniversaries.
For China and South Korea, which suffered under the yoke of Japan’s imperial ambition, Abe’s language will be a crucial marker of Tokyo’s acceptance of guilt for its march across Asia in the 1930s and 1940s which left millions dead.
South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang- Il said war criminals were “worshipped as God-like figures” at the leafy Tokyo shrine.
“Japanese political leaders should be aware that paying respects and expressing gratitude to such a shrine is an act of denial of the basic premise on which Japan was allowed back into the international community in the wake of WWII,” he told reporters in Seoul.
Hong Lei, a spokesman for the mainland China foreign ministry, cautioned Abe over the symbolic importance of this year’s anniversary.
“The Japanese leader must take concrete steps to honor ( the country’s) commitment of looking squarely at and reflecting upon its history of aggression, properly handle relevant issues, and win the trust of its neighbors and the international community,” Hong said.
Religious offerings dedicated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen, center in the background, as people pray at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo during an annual spring festival Tuesday, April 21.