Japan: new prime minister’s dedication to controversial shrine

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The new Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, on Saturday sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shinto shrine in Tokyo, a controversial place, as a symbol for Beijing and Seoul of violent Japanese militarism until 1945.

Mr. Suga sent an offering of a “masakaki” tree on his behalf to mark the start of the shrine’s fall festival, according to a spokesperson for the place.

He thus imitates his nationalist predecessor Shinzo Abe, who resigned in mid-September for health reasons, and of whom Mr. Suga was until then the faithful right-hand man.

Mr Abe visited the shrine in person in 2013 when he was sitting prime minister. His visit sparked an uproar in Beijing and Seoul, and was also criticized by Washington.

Mr. Abe had subsequently contented himself with regularly sending offerings to Yasukuni. But last month, just days after leaving power, he surrendered himself again.

Located in the heart of the Japanese capital, Yasukuni honors the memory of some 2.5 million soldiers who have died in wars waged by Japan since the end of the 19th century.

But the shrine also honors the memory of senior Japanese officers and politicians convicted of war crimes by the Allies after World War II.

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