The Straits Times
Published on Oct 17, 2012

Japan's opposition chief Abe visits war shrine


TOKYO (AFP) - Opposition leader Shinzo Abe, a man well-placed to become Japan's next prime minister, visited a controversial Tokyo war shrine on Wednesday, in a move that risks causing further friction with neighbouring countries.

Clad in formal suit, Mr Abe, a one-time prime minister who was elected president of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) last month, said he was at Yasukuni shrine in an official capacity.

"As the autumn festival has started, I visited as the president of the Liberal Democratic Party so as to express my respect to the heroic spirits who sacrificed their lives for the country," he told reporters.

The Shinto shrine in central Tokyo honours 2.5 million war dead, including 14 leading war criminals from World War II.