Abe sends offering to shrine honoring Japan's war dead

Frederick Owens
April 21, 2017

Many experts here in Seoul believe that ultra conservative politicians' continual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine along with Tokyo's efforts to whitewash history will remain as an obstacle to the improvement of bilateral ties between Korea and Japan.

The offering at the Yasukuni Shrine spring festival came as Japan seeks greater cooperation with China and South Korea in the face of rising tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

In December 2013, Abe sparked an uproar in Japan and overseas, particularly in South Korea and China, by visiting Yasukuni Shrine after he returned to power a year earlier.

A wooden sign which reads "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe" is seen on a ritual offering, a "masakaki" tree, from Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine, inside the main shrine at the controversial shrine for war dead, in Tokyo, Japan April 21, 2017.

The premier is unlikely to visit the shrine during the festival, Kyodo said.

Earlier in the day, a group of 90 Japanese lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and opposition paid a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

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Seiichi Eto, an Abe aide in the Upper House, also made a visit.

"The government expresses concern and regret..."

A statement released by the South Korean Foreign Ministry said the shrine "glorifies Japan's past colonial exploitation and war of aggression, and also enshrines war criminals".

Asian countries victimized by Japan's actions during World War II regard the shrine as a symbol of the country's past militarism.

Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki sent a ritual offering, like Abe, but neither was expected to visit, NHK added.

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