As Japan commemorates the 68th anniversary of their World War II surrender, the most prominent issue today would be which and how many of the ministers and senior government officials will be visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine which honors Japan’s war-time dead. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not be making a personal visit, an offering made on his behalf will most likely anger China and their other Asian neighbours.
While the Japanese consider it just right that they pay tribute to the people who gave up their lives during the war, their neighbours see it as something offensive. Countries like China and South Korea who were victimized by Japan during the war, see it as a glorification of Japan’s military past since the war shrine includes the names of convicted war criminals. Retired Chinese Major General Luo Yuan said, “Can you imagine what the world would think of Germany if they paid homage to Nazi boss Hitler?”
In trying to avoid further deterioration of relations with China, Prime Minister Abe decided to just send a representative to make an offering on his behalf at the shrine. “I asked my special aide … to make the offering on my behalf with a feeling of gratitude and respect for those who fought and gave their precious lives for their country,” he told reporters. He also emphasized that people should not make it a political or diplomatic issue whether or not he will be going to the shrine later on. But China has made it clear that any move on Japan’s part to go or make offerings at the shrine is unacceptable. As of the moment, two cabinet members have already paid their respects at the shrine: Keiji Furuya, the minister in charge of the North Korea abduction issue, and Internal affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo.
Meanwhile Chinese state media has said that they will be conducting live fire drills in the East China Sea for four days starting Thursday. Even if the area where they will be having the drills is far from Japan, media has speculated that they timed it to coincide with the Yasukini Shrine visits.
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