A former United States diplomat has urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to exercise a bit of caution over the issue of him visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which some of its neighbors consider a symbol of the country’s past military aggression. Abe is rumored to be considering a visit to the shrine that honors Japan’s wartime dead, including those who were convicted of war crimes.
Kurt Campbell, the former assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in a video message for a conference in Tokyo that Abe visiting the shrine could further fracture Japan’s relationship with countries who are extremely sensitive when it comes to historical issues like this, like China and South Korea. Campbell says he is not speaking on behalf of the US but for himself when he advises Abe to think carefully before deciding as he will be putting at risk this relationships. He also says it will be a set-back to all the achievements that Japan and this administration has done the past year. Abe is rumored to be visiting the shrine on December 26 this year, the one year anniversary since he returned to power.
Regarding the discussion on allowing Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense, Campbell said it’s a “natural development” for Japan to want to help other countries in preserving the peace and order. However, he emphasized that Japan needs to be able to properly explain to other countries the reasoning behind considering this change and to assure, especially its neighbors, that it will not be a return to their militaristic past.
[ via Kyodo News ]