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  • Apr 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:39am

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine, located in Tokyo, Japan, is dedicated to over 2,466,000 Japanese soldiers and servicemen who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan in the last 150 years. It also houses one of the few Japanese war museums dedicated to World War II.The shrine is at the center of an international  controversy by honoring war criminals convicted by a post World War II court including 14 'Class A' war criminals. Japanese politicians, including prime ministers and cabinet members have paid visits to Yasukuni Shrine in recent years which caused criticism and protests from China, Korea, and Taiwan. 

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ‘unwelcome’ in China after war shrine visit

Talks are ruled out as fears grow that the strained relations with China will only improve when Japan's prime minister is out of office

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 December, 2013, 9:15am

Beijing said yesterday that Japanese prime minster Shinzo Abe would be "unwelcome" in China because of his visit to a shrine honouring Japan's war dead, including war criminals.

The remarks suggest that the chances of any improvement in Sino-Japanese ties will be slim as long as Abe is in office, analysts said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday that leaders of the world's second- and third-largest economies would not have any political dialogue at the highest level.

Abe needs to admit his mistakes to the government and people of China
QIN GANG, FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN

"Since assuming office, Abe has miscalculated on Sino-Japan ties, and made mistake after mistake, especially visiting the Yasukuni Shrine which houses class A war criminals. These people are fascists, the Nazis of Asia," Qin said. "Of course the Chinese people don't welcome such a Japanese leader, and Chinese leaders will not meet him. Abe has himself shut the door on talks with Chinese leaders."

Abe said that he hoped for talks with Beijing after visiting the shrine last week - the first pilgrimage to the Shinto-style war shrine by a sitting Japanese prime minister since Junichiro Koizumi's visit in 2006.

"Abe's hypocrisy in his claims of prioritising relations with China and hopes for dialogue with the Chinese leaders has been fully revealed," Qin said. "Now, Abe needs to admit his mistakes to the government and people of China, cut loose from the past and make a new start."

On civilian ties - as opposed to government ties - between the two countries, Qin said Abe's actions had created a "tremendous obstacle" to bilateral co-operation and would "eventually hurt Japan's own interests".

Analysts said Beijing's latest remarks suggested there would be no bilateral summit as long as Abe is in office.

Liu Jiangyong , deputy dean of Tsignhua University's Institute of Modern International Relations, said Abe had inflicted greater damage on Sino-Japanese ties than Koizumi.

"Abe's recent moves are all targeting China … and at the year end he visits Yasukuni to report his work," Liu said.

Da Zhigang, a Japanese affairs specialist at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Science, said Beijing has lost hope with Abe, and will wait for Abe's successor to improve Sino-Japanese relations. "Abe will not have the chance to visit China, and talks between him and Chinese leaders on the sidelines of international meetings are also not possible," Da said.

"But China is unlikely to resort to economic sanctions because this will hurt China's trade and trigger sentiment in China."

Zhang Baohui, a security specialist at Lingnan University, said there was almost no room for improvement in Sino-Japan relations under Abe.

"The Sino-Japan relationship is in a very difficult situation given the two nations are embroiled in bitter territorial disputes, and the matter is now seriously complicated by historical issues."

Liu said relations between China and Japan would continue to deteriorate under Abe's reign. While Abe's Liberal Democratic Party is due to have another round of elections in 2015, Abe faces tremendous pressure both internationally and domestically in his bid to be re-elected as the party's president.

"If the Japanese people are not happy with his foreign policy, and if the economy does not improve, if the stock market's bubble bursts, Abe could fail," Liu said.

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Shangha1
What do people in Japan actually think about Shinzo Abe visiting the Yasukini shrine? It would be really interesting if Gallup polled people in Japan across different age groups, occupation etc to know how representative is Shinzo Abe.
low_cn
We Asians lack the grace and humility of the West. They have moved on to develop a better Europe for the future while in Asia we are still quibbling the past wrongs. We do not know how to forgive and forget. The West lives in the present and work for the future taking lessons from the past while we let the past affect the present and future. We have to move on and end the past hatred.
ngsw
Japan has not yet admitted she had done anything wrong. Forgive them what? The visit to the shrine says clearly the crime perpetrators are seen as national heroes and not war criminals. They are still proud of the atrocities they have done during the war.
wiseman
Stop making this kind of cliche remarks again. They are simply wrong. See how US and UK joined hands in spying on Merkel. Germany is what Japan should learn from while Israel should be the model for all Asian countries victimised by the Japanese.
low_cn
Don't be naive. Countries spy on each other regardless of whether they are friend or foe since the dawn of time.
edmund.singleton
It seems that every time a national leader of a nation lays a memento at the grave site to honor war dead, there are shouts that the site contains war criminals too. I submit that they are correct for who really knows all the true actions of all those buried there and the war crimes they may have had to comment to be so interred…
Commdentladyhku
Wait to see the step down of him.
patson.hayashi.3
私たちはあなたの総理大臣をサポート!
ngsw
Is this the same slogan during WWII? No lesson learned? Still shamelessly honoring the war criminals? Their names should be wiped out from the shrine to settle everything.
XYZ
The Shinto priests who administer the privately-funded Yasukuni religious shrine aver that once a spirit has been enshrined by Shinto ritual, it becomes an inseparable part of the collective whole forever and cannot be removed. This is the same reasoning they have used in response to relatives of some enshrined souls who claim the enshrinement was performed in contravention to the deceased's beliefs. So, wiping out the names of war criminals is not an option, unless one expects the Japanese to deny or alter their spiritual beliefs in order to satisfy Chinese demands for contrition.

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