Just when you think the Yasukini Shrine incidents have been buried under other diplomatic issues, along comes another incident to fan the flames. Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo visited the wartime memorial on Saturday, earning the ire once again of former colonies China and South Korea who consider the shrine a glorification of Japan’s militaristic past.
Shindo, a frequent visitor to the shrine, however emphasized that his visit was of a personal nature and that he went there to pray for peace. “I renewed my commitment to never cause such a tragedy as I prayed for peace before the people who lost their lives in the war. That’s what I do every time I visit the shrine,” he told reporters. He is only a junior minister in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, but this has “annoyed” Japan’s neighbors once again, with China saying this is just a reflection of the “mistaken attitude” of the administration. South Korea called it another “retrograde” step for the Japanese government and their foreign ministry in a statement said that it is another “challenge” to its former colonies who suffered from its aggression in the past.
A spokesman for Japan’s Foreign Ministry meanwhile said, “His visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which is a matter of his heart and conscience, and the Government of Japan’s policy are two totally separate matters.” Shindo’s grandfather was a commander during the historic battle at Iwo Jima in the last stages of World War II. Abe, whose grandfather was a politician during the war, stirred international controversy late last year when he visited Yasukuni, becoming the first prime minister to visit in seven years.
[ via BBC ]