An aide close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that the country’s top leader will be paying a visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine by the end of the year. This is despite the outcry that Japan’s neighbours raise whenever high-ranking officials make offerings at the shrine that honors the war-time dead, including several convicted war criminals.
Koichi Hagiuda, one of Abe’s aides and a lawmaker as well, has told Japanese media that he believes Abe will visit within the first year of his current government, and that means by December of this year. Hagiuda is of the belief that a prime minister should pay tribute at the shrine at least once a year. While Abe himself has not made any formal declarations, he did tell reporters on Saturday that he does not regret doing the same during his first term as prime minister, even if it did bring all kinds of criticism on his office.
Last week was another controversial one for Abe’s administration as Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo visited the shrine on a “private matter” and earned the ire of countries who were victimized by Japan’s past military aggression, namely China and South Korea. Around 160 members of parliament also paid their respects to the war dead as part of Japan’s autumn festival. On Sunday, another cabinet member, Keiji Furuya, minister for the North Korea abductees issue, also visited the shrine. While there has been no appearance by the prime minister at the shrine, just the mere fact that he sent an offering, his third since he came back to power, has been denounced by South Korea, while China has reacted in a “calm” manner, relatively speaking.
[ via Reuters ]