Suga sends offering to controversial shrine for Japanese war dead

A wooden plaque (background, left) bearing the name of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is seen with a "masakaki" tree at the Yasukuni Shrine for war dead in Tokyo. Mr Suga, who became premier last month, sent the offering to coincide with the
A wooden plaque (background, left) bearing the name of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is seen with a "masakaki" tree at the Yasukuni Shrine for war dead in Tokyo. Mr Suga, who became premier last month, sent the offering to coincide with the shrine's autumn festival.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has sent an offering to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead to coincide with its autumn festival, public broadcaster NHK reported yesterday.

It would be Mr Suga's first such offering to the shrine since taking office last month. His predecessor, Mr Shinzo Abe, had regularly sent offerings through an aide on the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II and during the shrine's spring and autumn festivals, refraining from visiting in person to avoid angering China and South Korea.

The shrine, in Tokyo, is seen by Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Japan's past military aggression because it honours 14 Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, as well as war dead.

Mr Abe's pilgrimage to the shrine in 2013 sparked outrage in South Korea and China and an expression of "disappointment" from the United States.

Mr Suga made a visit to the shrine in August 2011, according to a post on his official blog, well before becoming the Abe government's chief Cabinet secretary in December 2012.

The South Korean government "expresses deep regret that Japan's government and congressional leaders have again dedicated an offering to the Yasukuni Shrine which glorify Japan's past invasions", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

It said it urged Japanese leaders to face up to history and show "humble and genuine reflection" through action with the launch of a new Cabinet.

Ties between Tokyo and Seoul have remained strained owing to bitter memories of Japan's 1910-1945 colonisation of the Korean peninsula, as well as a dispute over compensation for Koreans forced to work on Japan's sites during wartime. Tokyo says the matter was settled by a 1965 treaty normalising bilateral relations.

Mr Abe visited Yasukuni on Sept 19, days after resigning as Japan's leader.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 18, 2020, with the headline 'Suga sends offering to controversial shrine for Japanese war dead'. Print Edition | Subscribe