The state minister in charge of the North Korean abduction issue, Keiji Furuya, paid a visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on Sunday, ahead of the annual spring festival from Monday-Friday. He defended his actions, saying that it is every Japanese’s duty to honor the wartime dead, as they have “sacrificed their lives for the state.”
Furuya, who is also the chairman of the National Public Commission, emphasized that he visited the shrine and paid the ritual offering out of his own personal expense. However, he signed his name as “state minister Keiji Furuya”, on this his second visit since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came into power last December 2012. This season, he is already the second high-ranking government official who has visited Yasukuni, after Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo’s visit last April 12. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and administrative reform minister Tomomi Inada are the other Abe cabinet members who have previously visited the shrine.
As expected, this latest news was met with criticism by Japan’s former colonies, China and South Korea, who see the shrine as a symbol of their past military aggression. The South Korean Foreign Ministry said this latest move contradicts Abe’s commitment to follow the past administrations’ stand against Japan’s wartime crimes. China‘s state-run Xinhua News Agency issued a statement, saying that this is once again a right-wing statement that glorifies Japan’s militaristic past. The shrine honors all of Japan’s wartime dead, including convicted war criminals, a fact that several countries have often criticized.
[ via Global Post ]