Shinzo Abe

Abe should visit shrine to war dead, say Japanese

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 2:34am

A majority of the Japanese public believes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should pay his respects to the nation's war dead at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine.

In a poll conducted by news agency Jiji Press, 56.7 per cent of the 1,292 people who replied were in favour of Abe visiting the controversial shrine, which neighbouring nations have long protested is a symbol of Japan's imperialist past.

In contrast, just 26.6 per cent said the prime minister should not take part in events at the shrine.

In an analysis of the apparent swing to the right among the public, the agency said: "The results may stem from deteriorating public sentiment towards China, which has taken steps to challenge Japan's control of the Senkaku [Diaoyu] Islands in the East China Sea, such as intrusions into Japanese waters and airspace."

In a similar poll conducted in 2006 by the Nihon Keizai newspaper, only 43 per cent of respondents were in favour of the prime minister visiting Yasukuni, with 39 per cent expressing their opposition.

In the run-up to the Japanese general election last month, Abe indicated that he would visit the shrine if he was elected.

He expressed "bitter grief" at not having done so when he previously served as prime minister in 2006.