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Japanese Cabinet Minister, 90 Lawmakers Visit War-linked Yasukuni Shrine
   2016-04-22 10:07:16    Xinhua      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

A Shinto priest (R) accompanies Japanese lawmakers after they paid respects to the country's war dead at the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, Japan April 22, 2016. [Photo: CFP]

A group of around 90 Japanese lawmakers, including a senior member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet, on Friday visited the controversial war-linked Yasukuni Shrine which stands as a symbol of Japan's militarism and honors its war dead including criminals convicted by an international tribunal.

The group of lawmakers visiting the shrine, comprising Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takaichi Sanae, as well as Shuichi Takatori, senior vice minister of the Cabinet Office, and Yoshitaka Ito, senior vice agriculture minister, follows Abe making a ritual offering of a "masakaki" tree to the notorious shrine in Tokyo a day earlier.

Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki, House of Representatives Speaker Tadamori Oshima and House of Councillors President Masaaki Yamazaki made similar offerings on the same day.

Seiichi Eto, Abe's special advisor, and Liberal Democratic Party and lower house member, Keiji Furuya, meanwhile, visited the contentious war-linked shrine in person, while Abe's offering was made by proxy.

Such gestures, by way of proxy of otherwise made at the war shrine, draw the ire of Japan's neighboring countries, particularly China and South Korea, who both suffered immeasurably at the hands of Japan's brutal militarism before and during WWII and were both quick to denounce the visits and the offerings on Thursday.

The controversial war shrine honors the souls of some 2.5 million war dead, including more than 1,000 war criminals convicted by a post WWII court, including 14 Class-A war criminals as adjudicated by the war crimes tribunal.

For the victim countries of Japan's wartime atrocities, the shrine is a living reminder of the horrors inflicted by the Japanese army during its time occupying countries, particularly in East Asia, and a symbol of ultra-rightwing defiance and a stronghold of contemporary historical revisionism, militarism and an imperialistic mentality.

Abe himself has not visited the shrine since he paid an ill-advised tribute there in person in December 2013, the fallout of which saw Japan's ties with its closest neighbors effectively disintegrate and the Japanese leader strongly reprimanded by the United States for inflaming regional tensions.


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