Ministers have freedom to visit Yasukuni: Abe

Updated: 2013-08-06 21:09


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TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he would not prevent his cabinet ministers to visit Yasukuni Shrine on the August 15 anniversary, local media reported.

"Whether Cabinet ministers will visit (Yasukuni) in their private capacity is an issue of their belief. So they are free," Abe said at a news conference in Hiroshima.

But the prime minister declined to declare the same day on whether he would visit the war-linked Shrine. "I will not respond (to the question about) whether I will visit," he said.

Some government resources last week told reporters Abe would not visit Yasukuni, considering relations with neighboring nations. While on Tuesday, Abe stressed he wants to mourn and respect those sacrificed their lives for the state.

The Shinto shrine honors convicted Class-A war criminals along with millions of Japan's war dead. Some previous visits by prime ministers and lawmakers have triggered strong criticism of Japan's neighbor countries.