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.

Ob­servers are


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.

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