Yasukuni Shrine visit by Abe's wife angers China

BEIJING • China yesterday 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.

Mrs Akie Abe on Tuesday visited the shrine in central Tokyo that honours 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 World War II.

In a one-sentence reaction, foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said 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.

Mrs Abe posted photos on her Facebook page on Tuesday following her 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.

Mr Abe himself stayed away from Yasukuni but a few members of his Cabinet visited the shrine last Saturday, the 70th anniversary of Japan's WWII surrender.

A day earlier, he 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.

China will hold a military parade on Sept 3 to mark the 70th anniversary. It has invited many world leaders to the event, but so far only Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed his attendance, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Mrs Abe has openly disagreed with her husband on certain policy issues in the past, including his pro-nuclear energy stance.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Yasukuni Shrine visit by Abe's wife angers China'. Print Edition | Subscribe