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Legacy of war in Asia

Japan defence minister's visit to war-linked Yasukuni shrine also irks US

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 11:59am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 December, 2016, 12:01pm

US officials have reportedly reacted negatively to the Japanese defence minister’s visit Thursday to a controversial war-linked shrine days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbour with US President Barack Obama.

“We continue to emphasise the importance of approaching historical legacy issues in a manner that promotes healing and reconciliation,” a State Department spokesperson told Kyodo News, indirectly criticising Tomomi Inada’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Thursday.

Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it is regrettable that Inada visited the Yasukuni Shrine shortly after returning from Hawaii, where she accompanied Abe who offered condolences to those who died in the 1941 Japanese surprise attack there.

The Shinto shrine is seen by some of Tokyo’s neighbours, particularly China and South Korea, as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. The two countries have rapped Inada’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine.

Beijing said it would make “solemn representations” to Japan while Seoul called the visit “deplorable”.

Abe offered his “sincere and everlasting condolences” Tuesday at Pearl Harbour, while praising the postwar reconciliation between Japan and the United States.

He was speaking in a joint ceremony with Obama at the USS Arizona Memorial, built above the US battleship sunk in the attack on December 7, 1941 that prompted the United States’ entry into the war.

Obama said in his speech: “Today the alliance between the United States and Japan, bound not only by shared interest but also rooted in common values, stands as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, and a force for progress around the world.”