China, S. Korea blast Japan’s war shrine visits
TOKYO (AP) — China and South Korea reacted strongly Friday to visits by three Japanese Cabinet ministers to a Tokyo shrine that honors the war dead including convicted war criminals, although Japan’s prime minister stayed away.
Keiji Furuya, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, one of the three ministers who visited Yasukuni Shrine, said it was “only natural as a Japanese” to honor those who had given up their lives for their country.
Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo told reporters his visit was a vow to never wage war again, and shrugged off concerns it may set off a diplomatic row.
“If it does, the government should give a clear and good explanation,” he told reporters after praying at the shrine. A third official, Administrative Reform Minister Tomomi Inada, visited later Friday.
China lambasted the visits as proof of Tokyo’s incorrect understanding of history, calling Yasukuni “a spiritual tool and symbol for the Japanese militarists.”
“Sino-Japanese relations can develop in a healthy and stable way only if Japan can face up to and reflect on the history of invasion and make a clear break with militarism,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in an online statement.
In Seoul, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said some Japanese politicians were acting in a way that hurts both South Koreans and Japanese and further pushes the countries’ people apart.