US Vice President Joe Biden has reportedly asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine in a telephone call in December. The conversation, which lasted for an hour, happened two weeks before Abe’s December 26th visit. The controversial shrine commemorates Japanese wartime dead, including Class A war criminals. It is also a house to a museum that narrates Japan as a liberator and victim, instead of an aggressor that most historians don’t agree with.
Abe reportedly told Biden that he “will decide by himself whether he will go,” causing frustration for the Vice President, who eventually acceded to Abe and left him with the decision. Abe’s visit to the shrine on Dec 26 sparked protests from neighboring countries China and South Korea. Even the U.S., a known ally of Japan, admonished the act, saying it was “disappointed” by the prime minister’s decision. Abe defended the visit, saying it was not his intention to cause ill feelings among Chinese and South Koreans.
The spat between Japan and China had been going on prior to the visit, due to territorial disputes, and has hindered Japan from holding a summit with China or South Korea. With the U.S. trying its best to unite its two allies, Japan and South Korea, against China’s increasing military might, the disputes between the three nations are proving to be a crippling point for the Western giant. Many sees the disputes headed to a global conflict, which could affect the economy of other nations if not curbed. U.S. President Obama’s Asian tour is expected to include a visit to Tokyo. Discussing the tensions in the region is anticipated to be one of Obama’s top agendas during the visit.
[via Digital Journal]
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