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Japan PM Shinzo Abe visits Yasukuni WW2 shrine

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting a controversial shrine to World War Two dead, exactly one year after he took office.

Mr Abe said his visit to Yasukuni was “to pledge and determine that never again will people suffer in war”.

He said it was “not intended to hurt the Chinese or South Koreans”.

But a Chinese foreign ministry official was quick to denounce the visit as “absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people”.

Yasukuni honours several convicted Japanese war criminals. Beijing and Seoul see it as a symbol of Tokyo’s war-time aggression.

This is the first visit to Yasukuni by a serving prime minister since 2006.

Japan ‘to bear consequences’

Mr Abe entered the shrine on Thursday morning, wearing a morning suit and grey tie. His arrival was televised live.

“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 as he visited the shrine.

Continue reading the main story

Yasukuni Shrine

  • Built in 1869 under the Emperor Meiji
  • Venerates the souls of Japan’s war dead
  • Those enshrined include war criminals
  • Japan’s neighbours say it represents the country’s past militarism

But Chinese foreign ministry official Luo Zhaohui said Japan “must bear the consequences arising from this”.

In August, Mr Abe sent a ritual offering to the shrine but was not among a group of dozens of Japanese lawmakers who visited Yasukuni.

Yasukuni commemorates some 2.5 million Japanese men, women and children who died for their country in wars.

But the souls of 14 Class A convicted war criminals from World War Two are also enshrined there, including Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo, who was executed for war crimes in 1948.

A Shinto priest bows at Yasukuni. Photo: October 2013The shrine to WW2 dead also honours several convicted Japanese war criminals

Visits to the shrine by lawmakers anger and offend Japan’s neighbours, to whom the shrine represents Japan’s past militarism, including the colonisation of the Korean peninsula and the invasion of China.

Mr Abe’s visit comes as Japan and China remain locked in a bitter dispute over East China Sea islands that both claim.

South Korea and Japan, meanwhile, are involved in a row over an island midway between the two over which both say they have sovereignty.


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