As the controversial Yasukuni Shrine remains a hot issue for Japan’s neighbours in East Asia, especially when Japanese ministers pay tribute to those who died during war times, it is expected of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to be more careful should he decide to visit the shrine, especially at the coming autumn festival. However, it is unlikely for the LDP chief to make any appearance and tribute, much like during this year’s spring festival and at the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.
Abe was quoted during a television appearance on Friday that it is natural to pay respects to Japan’s war dead. “It’s not the sort of thing that should be criticized by foreign observers, nor is it a warlike sentiment. … Unfortunately, [visits to Yasukuni] have become a diplomatic issue, so I’d prefer to refrain from declaring outright whether I’ll go or not.” The second-time prime minister was also urged by the United States not to provoke China, which has never been shy in criticizing any Japanese official visiting Yasukuni shrine especially on August 15, the day China and South Korea declared liberation from Imperial Japanese rule. Now eyes are on the autumn festival, which will be on October 17-20.
According to an official close to the premier, “Though you could call Yasukuni a purely domestic issue, visiting at this time of year would appear as though Japan was prodding China and South Korea. The prime minister is taking all these factors into account, and will probably decide against a visit to the shrine.” Referring to China and South Korea, Abe said during the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Bali, “I want to send a message that the door of dialogue is always open.”