Tokyo | Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shinto Shrine in the heart of Tokyo, a highly controversial location considered by many to be a symbol of Japan’s militaristic past.
Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe, who resigned last year for health reasons, visited Yasukuni in person on Wednesday for the shrine’s spring celebrations, the shrine confirmed. ‘AFP a spokesperson for the site.
Yasukuni honors the memory of nearly 2.5 million soldiers who died in conflicts led by Japan from the late 19th century until 1945.
But the place also honors the memory of senior Japanese officers and politicians convicted of war crimes by the Allies after World War II.
Also the respect regularly shown to this sanctuary by the contemporary Japanese political leaders has the effect of irritating Beijing and Seoul, China and the Korean peninsula having undergone the yoke of Tokyo during the first half of the XXth century.
In a statement, the South Korean foreign ministry on Wednesday expressed its “deep disappointment” at the continued Japanese tributes to Yasukuni, a place “glorifying colonial exploitation” and the policy of “aggression. From pre-1945 Japan.
“We call on Japanese leaders to face history, humbly (…) and to turn this reflection into action. Japan should keep in mind that this is the basis for forward-looking Japanese-Korean relations, ”Seoul added.
Shinzo Abe is the last Japanese prime minister to personally visit Yasukuni while in office, in 2013.
His visit had outraged China and South Korea and had also been sharply criticized by the United States, yet Japan’s great ally.
Mr Abe has visited Yasukuni several times since he stepped down from power in September 2020.