The United States’ Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked their close ally Japan to improve strained relations with neighbouring countries in the aftermath of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors their war-time dead. The visit prompted international criticism and scrutiny as past colonies of Japan consider the shrine a glorification of their militaristic past.
During telephone talks on Saturday with his Japanese counterpart, Itsunori Onodera, Hagel said it is important for Japan to make steps in improving relations with China and South Korea in order to ensure cooperation in the region to advance shared goals of peace and stability. The statement was released by Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on the US Defense Department website. During their telephone conversation, Onodera also reportedly asked for understanding regarding Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, saying the prime minister made it part of the renewal of the country’s pledge to never wage war ever again.
The U.S., through a statement from US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said last Monday that they were “disappointed” that Japan had to take an action that will “exacerbate tensions” with their neighbours, which are already damaged enough due to several territorial disputes. China and South Korea, among other countries, have already expressed very strong opinions and condemnations about Abe‘s visit to the shrine which includes war criminals. This was further compounded when Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo also paid a visit to the shrine last January 1.
[ via Jiji Press ]