China slams Japan after Abe's wife visits Yasukuni war shrine

Mrs Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, posted on her Facebook page a picture of herself standing next to a senior priest during a visit at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Aug 18, 2015.
Mrs Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, posted on her Facebook page a picture of herself standing next to a senior priest during a visit at Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo on Aug 18, 2015.PHOTO: FACEBOOK OF AKIE ABE

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Friday hit out at Japan after the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo's controversial Yasukuni Shrine, saying the country should "deeply reflect" on its history of aggression.

Akie Abe on Tuesday visited the shrine in central Tokyo that honours the memory of Japan's war dead since the 19th century, including more than a dozen war criminals convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East after the war.

In a one-sentence reaction, foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that Japan has failed to come to terms with its past.

"Japan should earnestly look squarely at its past history of aggression and deeply reflect on it, thoroughly separate itself from the militarism of the time, make more efforts that will help enhance mutual trust and achieve reconciliation with neighbouring countries in Asia," she said in remarks posted on the foreign ministry website.

Akie Abe posted photos on her Facebook page on Tuesday following the visit to the shrine.

"I feel different about Yasukuni after a visit to Chiran," she wrote, referring to a base for World War II "kamikaze", or suicide mission, pilots.

Her husband had stayed away from Yasukuni but a few members of his Cabinet visited on Saturday, the 70th anniversary of Japan's WWII surrender.

A day earlier, the prime minister had issued a closely watched statement on the war, which China and South Korea said did not amount to a proper apology for Tokyo's aggression. Views of the war and its causes, as well as a maritime territorial dispute that has intensified in recent years have served as major impediments to normal relations between China and Japan - Asia's two biggest economies.

Japan's first lady remains largely in the shadows of public life, but has openly disagreed with her husband on certain policy issues in the past, including his pro-nuclear energy stance after the Fukushima crisis.