Japanese minister visits notorious shrine
Updated: 2015-04-23 10:04
Photo shows Eriko Yamatani, head of the National Public Safety Commission and minister in charge of disaster management, who visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on April 23, 2015. [Photo/IC]
TOKYO - A minister of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet visited the war criminal-honored Yasukuni Shrine on Thursday, one day after Chinese President Xi Jinping told Abe that history issue is a major matter of principle concerning political basis of bilateral ties.
Eriko Yamatani, head of the National Public Safety Commission and state minister in charge of disaster management, made the shrine visit and the female minister, one of the symbols of Abe's efforts to promote women's social status, were also accused of having a long time relationship with an ultra-right neo-Nazi group.
After her visit to the shrine, which honors about 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including 14 Class-A convicted Japanese war criminals during World War II, Yamatani said she wants to express her appreciation to those who fight for the country.
The visit came following a meeting between Xi and Abe in Jakarta on Wednesday during which the Chinese leader told Abe that history issue is a major matter of principle concerning political basis of China-Japan relations.
Xi also voiced hopes at the meeting that the Japanese side would seriously treat the concerns of its Asian neighbors and send out positive signals on the history issue.
Historical issues, including Yasukuni visits by Japanese politicians, are a major obstacle for Japan to mend its ties with neighboring China and South Korea as the two countries were, among others, victims of Japan's wartime aggression and colonial rule.
Abe on Tuesday made an offering to the Yasukuni Shrine. The offering draw strong criticism from China and South Korea as foreign ministries of the two countries urged Japan to meet its commitment to face up to its wartime history.
On Wednesday, more than 100 Japanese lawmakers worshipped the infamous shrine.
Abe plans to issue a statement on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, and he reiterated that he would not use key words, such as "aggression," "colonial rule" and "heartfelt apology" that used in the previous statements by prime ministers.
The crucial words are the corner stone of the world-recognized Murayama Statement issue by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama at the 50th anniversary of the end of the war and were used by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on the occasion of 60th anniversary.
Japanese political heavyweights, including former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, urged Abe to include the words in his planned statement so as to take the 70th anniversary as an opportunity to seek reconciliation with Japan's neighbors.