Japan PM makes donation to war dead shrine, cabinet members visit

Published August 16, 2022
Seoul: Members of protest groups hold the national flags of South Korea and the US during a rally as South Korea marked its 77th National Liberation Day on Monday, celebrating independence from Japanese colonial rule following the end of World War II.—AFP
Seoul: Members of protest groups hold the national flags of South Korea and the US during a rally as South Korea marked its 77th National Liberation Day on Monday, celebrating independence from Japanese colonial rule following the end of World War II.—AFP

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Mini­ster Fumio Kishida sent an offering to a controversial Tokyo shrine for war dead visited by members of his cabinet on Monday, the 77th anniversary of Japan’s World War Two surrender, moves set to anger South Korea and China.

With the Yasukuni Shrine seen as a symbol of Japan’s past military aggression, Japan’s ties with China are already particularly strained this year after it conducted unprecedented military exercises around Taiwan following the visit there by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.

During the drills, several missiles fell in waters inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The commemoration at Yasukuni, a site that honours 14 Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, as well as war dead, leaves Kishida facing a tricky balancing act.

On the dovish side of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), he must avoid irking international neighbours and partners while still keeping the more right-wing members of the party happy, particularly after the killing of party kingpin Shinzo Abe last month.

Kishida sent an offering to the shrine without visiting, Kyodo news agency reported. He sent offerings to Yasukuni during festivals last year and this spring.

Footage on broadcaster NHK showed the shrine being visited early on Monday by several cabinet ministers, including Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi. Earlier the site was visited by Koichi Hagiuda, the head of the LDP’s policy research council and a key ally of slain former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

“I am not aware of whether the Prime Minister will visit Yasukuni Shrine or not, and I believe that he will make the appropriate decision,” chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference on Monday.

“It is natural for any country to pay respect to those who gave their lives for their country,” Matsuno said. “Japan will continue to strengthen its relations with its neighbours, including China and South Korea.”

A group of lawmakers that normally visit en masse on Aug 15 said last week they would not do so due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Kishida avoided paying his respects in person on the anniversary of the war’s end while he was a cabinet minister and LDP official, but has sent offerings to the two Yasukuni festivals that have taken place since he took office last October. He, as well as Emperor Naruhito, will attend a separate, secular ceremony later in the day.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Avenfield relief
Updated 30 Sep, 2022

Avenfield relief

Accountability cannot continue to be treated like a revolving door in which politicians can be shoved in or pulled out on a whim.
Dar’s plans
Updated 30 Sep, 2022

Dar’s plans

For starters, the country doesn’t have spare dollars to burn.
Another targeted attack
30 Sep, 2022

Another targeted attack

WEDNESDAY’S deadly attack on three Chinese-origin individuals in Karachi’s Saddar area demonstrates the threat...
More leaks
Updated 29 Sep, 2022

More leaks

Recent leaks look more like an inside job than the work of a foreign power.
A depressing winter
29 Sep, 2022

A depressing winter

WINTER is on its way, with a massive gas crunch looming as elevated global LNG prices have eroded the cash-strapped...
Great expectations
29 Sep, 2022

Great expectations

CONSIDERING that the Afghan Taliban have been in the saddle for over a year now, the UN has expressed frustration...