Former prime minister of Japan and recently elected leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Shinzo Abe, obviously felt that Sino-Japanese relations weren’t strained enough at the moment. On Wednesday he visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan’s war dead, including war criminals.
“I paid a visit as president of the Liberal Democratic Party to show respect to the spirits of the war dead who gave their lives for the country,” Mr Abe told reporters after his visit.
“In view of current Japan-China, Japan-South Korea relations, it’s better not to say whether I will visit if I become prime minister,” he added.
Current prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, has vowed never to visit the shrine during his tenure; his predecessor Naoto Kan also stayed away. Abe’s move will increase concerns that, if elected, he will promote a nationalistic foreign policy which will worsen tensions in a region already on a knife-edge.
Despite common assertions to the contrary in China, numerous Japanese politicians have made official apologies for war crimes against China and Korea during WWII. However, right-wing nationalist nutbags like Shinzo Abe and Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara have frequently denied the Imperial Japanese Army’s use of sex slaves (“comfort women”) and the Rape of Nanjing, effectively undoing any sense of goodwill the apologies engendered.
Image credit: @jpellgen.