About 160 Japanese lawmakers visit Yasukuni Shrine
Updated: 2013-10-18 14:46
TOKYO -- About 160 Japanese lawmakers from a nonpartisan group on Friday morning worshipped the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine during its autumn festival, according to local media.
Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo also paid a visit to the controversial shrine earlier the day, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday sent an offering to the shrine under the title of "prime minister."
Sanae Takaichi, policy chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was among the herd of lawmakers that visited the notorious shrine, saying that they should continue to visit the shrine, which is considered as a symbol of Japan's wartime militarism.
During its spring festival in April, 168 Japanese lawmakers worshipped the Yasukuni, the highest number since 1989, triggering fierce opposition from Japan's neighboring countries, namely China and South Korea.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato also paid a visit earlier the day and said that Japan will continue to strengthen ties with neighboring countries while making sure the issue will not affect their relations as a whole.
The visits are amid current strained relations between Japan and the two countries, both of them suffered aggression by Japan in wartime, due to Japan's attitude toward wartime history and territorial disputes.
About 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A war criminals during the World War II, are enshrined in Yasukuni and repeated visits to the controversial shrine by Japanese cabinet ministers and lawmakers have been a major obstacle for Japan to mend ties with the two countries.
Hidehisa Otsuji, a LDP upper house lawmaker who heads the worship group, said he believes that Abe will visit the controversial shrine eventually. The Japanese prime minister, known as a hawkish conservative, does not refrain his cabinet members from visiting the notorious shrine.
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Thursday urged Japan to properly deal with the issues surrounding the controversial shrine and to face up to and make real introspection for its history of aggression after Abe's offering.
Meanwhile, officials from the Republic of Korea also blasted Abe for yet another inconsiderate gesture made at the controversial shrine.