US `disappointed` as Japan PM Abe visits war shrine; China, S Korea angry

In a move bound to invoke the indignation of its Asian neighbours China and South Korea, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Tokyo: Hours after Japanese PM Shinzo Abe on Thursday visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, China and South Korea slammed the act and the US too, expressed concerns about a further straining of ties between Japan and its neighbours.

Enraged over the act, China called it a "brazen" move with its Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang saying, "We strongly protest and seriously condemn the Japanese leader`s acts".

"The essence of Japanese leaders` visits to the Yasukuni shrine is to glorify Japan`s history of militaristic aggression and colonial rule," Qin said.

South Korea also slammed the act calling it an “anachronistic behaviour” on part of Japan.

“We can’t help deploring and expressing anger at the prime minister’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine… despite concerns and warnings by neighbouring countries,” South Korean Culture Minister Yoo Jin-Ryong told reporters.

“The visit… is anachronistic behaviour that fundamentally damages not only relations between the South and Japan but also stability and cooperation in Northeast Asia,” he added.

The US said it was "disappointed" and concerned about the ramifications of the move, cautioning that it may aggravate the tensions already simmering between the Asian neighbours.

"Japan is a valued ally and friend. Nevertheless, the United States is disappointed that Japan`s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan`s neighbours," the US embassy said in a wriiten statement.

"The United States hopes that both Japan and its neighbours will find constructive ways to deal with sensitive issues from the past, to improve their relations, and to promote cooperation in advancing our shared goals of regional peace and stability," the statement said.

"We take note of the Prime Minister`s expression of remorse for the past and his reaffirmation of Japan`s commitment to peace."

Abe`s visit comes exactly one year after he took to Prime Minister office for a second term and a t a time when China and Japan are already locked in an acrimonious stand-off over the dispued islands in East China Sea.

Donning morning suit and grey tie, Mr Abe arrived at the shrine on Thursday morning. His visit to the shrine was televised live.
Trying to assuage the Asian neighbours, Abe said his visit was “not intended to hurt the Chinese or South Koreans", reported an international news site.

"I chose this day to report (to the souls of the dead) what we have done in the year since the administration launched and to pledge and determine that never again will people suffer in war," he said .

However, China didn’t delay in denouncing the visit saying it is "absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people".

Japan "must bear the consequences arising from this", said Chinese foreign ministry official Luo Zhaohui.

Calling it as a brazen act, China called it "against war history and human conscience" and "a brutal offence against the feelings of the Chinese and other Asian war victims of Japan".

The Japanese PM`s visit comes four months after he sent a ritual offering to the shrine in August when Japanese lawmakers paid a mass visit to the shrine.

China had then summoned Japan’s ambassador to lodge a strong protest.

Their visit to the Yasukuni Shrine “seriously harms the feelings of the people in China and other Asian victim countries”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had said in a statement.

Though the Yasukuni war shrine is dedicated to over 2.5 million war dead, it also honours at least 14 top war criminals of World War II and visits paid by Japanese lawmakers or Premiers is considered as derogatory to Asian victims of he war.

The top World War II criminals include Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo, who had ordered attack on Pearl Harbour and dragged US in the war. He was executed for war crimes in 1948.

Also for China and South Korea, the shrine is thought to be a sullen reminder of Japan`s aggressive past in early half of 20h century when Japan had occupied large parts of China and colonised Korean Peninsula.

Japan`s ties with South Korea and China have already been strained further by the territorial disputes in the East China Sea and fuel was added to the simmering fire when China last month
established a new air defence identification zone.

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