Abe sends ritual offering, ministers visit Yasukuni shrine

Tokyo, Aug 15 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni shrine on Monday, where two of his cabinet members paid homage on the 71st anniversary of the country’s surrender in World War II.

Abe sent his aide Yasutoshi Nishimura to make the offering on his behalf as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Xinhua news agency reported.

The Prime Minister reportedly refrained from visiting the shrine on Monday, the day Japan surrendered, in an effort to prevent further damage to Japan’s relationship with China and South Korea.

At an annual memorial ceremony held by the Japanese government in Tokyo on Monday, Abe also failed to mention “reflection” over the past war.

Japanese Emperor Akihito, however, stated his “deep remorse” over the past war for the second time at the national memorial service, and expressed his wish for world peace.

Meanwhile, two of Abe’s colleagues in the newly reshuffled cabinet — Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi and Tamayo Marukawa, minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, paid homage to the shrine.

Farm Minister Yuji Yamamoto said he visited the Yasukuni shrine on August 6. Masahiro Imamura, Minister for Reconstruction of disaster-hit regions, visited the shrine last week.

Dozens of conservative lawmakers, including Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda and Shinjiro Koizumi, son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, also visited the shrine on Monday.

Japan’s new Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, who had regularly visited the shrine before, did not pay homage on Monday as she was away on a four-day trip to Djibouti in Africa.

But an LDP lawmakers’ group with Inada as the president visited the shrine.

The Yasukuni shrine, which honours 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million Japanese war dead from the WWII, is regarded as a symbol of the past Japanese militarism.

Visits to the shrine by leaders and officials have sparked strong criticism from China and South Korea.

–IANS

py/vt

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