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Japanese Ministers Prayed At Yasukuni Shrine, Which Has Class A Criminals from World War II
While Showing Sympathy for the Victims at Pearl Harbor
A general view of the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors millions of Japanese war dead but also senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes after World War II. Japan's defence minister Tomomi Inada went to a controversial war shrine in Tokyo on December 29, 2016, media reports said, the day accompanying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a highly symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor.
After Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's highly symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor, Japanese ministers prayed at Yasukuni Shrine. Their visit to the war shrine was a flashpoint for criticism by China and South Korea, which suffered under Japan's colonialism and aggression.
Korea and China feel uneasy about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor on December 27. The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying described the visit as one of his "smart shows," urging Japan's sincere apology for the "war of aggression" against China and other Asian neighbors. This is how many Koreans also feel. Prime Minister Abe must realize that true reconciliation is impossible without the aggressor's wholehearted reflection and apology.
U.S. President Barack Obama hailed Abe's visit as a "historic gesture that speaks to the power of reconciliation and the alliance between the American and Japanese peoples." While showing sympathy to the victims, however, Abe offered no apology for his country's wartime aggression during his visit to the site of Japan's surprise bombing 75 years ago that killed more than 2,300 Americans.
It is also highly regrettable that a member of Abe's Cabinet visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which worships Class A war criminals from World War II and glorifies its wartime aggression, on the same day of Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor.
The Shrine also honors millions of mostly Japanese war dead, but is controversial for also enshrining senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes by an international tribunal.
Abe's Pearl Harbor visit came on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Korea-Japan comfort women deal made between President Park Geun-hye and her Japanese counterpart on Dec. 28, 2015, which many Koreans still protest. For countries that suffered under Japanese occupation and aggression, Japan must admit its wrongdoings and offer a sincere apology and compensation.
Abe's visit is also seen as an attempt to solidify U.S.-Japan relations ahead of a power change in the U.S. During a speech at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese leader stressed that the two countries had fought a fierce war but have become "allies with deep and strong ties rarely found anywhere in history," and that the two countries were bound by an "alliance of hope."

A Japanese cabinet minister offered prayers at the controversial war shrine in Tokyo on December 28. Masahiro Imamura, the minister in charge of the reconstruction of northern Japan after the massive 2011 tsunami, visited the Shrine in the afternoon.
Minister Imamura stressed his visit "has nothing to do with" Abe's trip to Pearl Harbour and the timing is "a coincidence", according to NHK and other Japanese media. Imamura also visited the shrine on August 11, several days before the anniversary of Japan's defeat in the World War II.
Imamura's visit came just hours after Abe and US President Barack Obama paid homage to the more than 2,400 Americans killed on December 7, 1941 in Japan's surprise attack that drew the United States into the war.
On December 29, Japan's hawkish defense minister, Ms. Tomomi Inada, prayed at the controversial war shrine in Tokyo, the day after accompanying Prime Minister Abe on a highly symbolic visit to Pearl Harbor.
The defense minister's visit was her first since taking the key defense portfolio in August, though she has frequently gone in the past. The visit came a day after Obama and Abe paid homage to thousands of U.S. soldiers killed in Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii. The attack prompted the United States to join World War II.
"By taking a future-oriented stance, I offered my prayers to build peace for Japan and the world," she told reporters. Minister Inada is a close confidante of the Japanese prime minister with staunchly nationalist views. Prime Minister Abe, who was reportedly playing golf, said he had "no comment" on her visit, according to the Jiji Press.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced Japanese Defense Minister Inada's visit to the shrine and summoned Kohei Maruyama, a minister at the Japanese Embassy, to lodge a protest. "Our government cannot but deplore" the visit, foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said in a statement, while in separate comments the defense ministry expressed "grave concern and regret".
Ms Inada wrote in 2011 that Japan - the only country in the world to suffer atomic bomb attacks - should consider acquiring nuclear weapons. In August, after becoming defense minister, she told reporters that Japan "should not consider arming itself with nuclear weapons at this moment".
In 2014, she and another conservative lawmaker were seen in separate photographs standing next to the leader of a Japanese neo-Nazi party, though spokesmen for both denied any political affiliation. Minister Inada argued on December 29 that paying respect to war dead should be universally accepted, echoing the argument repeated by Japanese lawmakers who frequently visit Yasukuni.
"Regardless of the types of views that you hold about history, regardless of whether you are foes or friends, I believe wishes to express gratitude and to respect and commemorate whose who died for their nations can be understood in any country," she said.
Dozens of conservative lawmakers visit the shrine on the anniversary marking Japan's surrender in World War II.

According to Yonhap news, the ROK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called in a Japanese Embassy minister on December 29 to protest the Japanese defense minister's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial temple where war criminals from World War II are enshrined.
The director-general of the ministry's Northeast Asia Affairs Bureau, Chung Byung-won, officially lodged the protest with Kohei Maruyama, a minister at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, who was summoned to the ministry headquarters earlier in the day.
In a statement, the foreign ministry denounced Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada's visit to the controversial war shrine: "The government cannot suppress its deploration over the key Japanese politician's worship at Yasukuni, which glorifies Japan's past colonial infliction and aggression, and enshrines war criminals."
"The government once again makes it clear that Japan could recover trust from its neighbors and the international society only when Japanese leaders face up to history correctly and carry their selfexamination and sincere repentance into action," it said.
In a separate statement, the Ministry of National Defense also denounced the visit: "We strongly condemn the Japanese defense minister's visit to Yasukuni, which beautifies Japan's war of aggression against its neighboring countries and honors war criminals."
It is deplorable that Japan's defense chief went to Yasukuni though South Korea has stressed that the two sides "face up to history and build a future-oriented relationship," it said. The defense ministry also summoned Hideaki Takahashi, the Japanese military attache in Seoul, to protest the Japanese defense chief's Yasukuni visit.
The agreement between Korea and Japan over compensation for women forced into sexual slavery before and during World War II is now on shaky ground with the opposition calling for its renegotiation or abolishment.

On the first anniversary of the deal, on December 28, the opposition parties asked for Japan to make a sincere apology over its sexual enslavement of Korean women.
The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) said the next Korean government should scrap the agreement and negotiate a new one from square one. The second-largest opposition People's Party claimed Japan should accept liability for its wartime sex crimes.
Citing that the agreement was made in a "final and irreversible manner," DPK floor leader Rep. Woo Sang-ho criticized the Park government for striking the deal unilaterally against the wishes of the majority of Koreans.
"It will be marked as a humiliating moment in Korean diplomacy as the government made the agreement with Japan in return for 1 billion yen," Woo said. DPK spokesman Rep. Park Kyung-mee denounced the Park administration as a "puppet of Abe's Cabinet" and referred to the 1 billion yen as "peanuts" to fool the remaining elderly survivors.People's Party spokesman Kim Kyung-rok held a similar view.
"Our government is trying to trade the honor and dignity of the survivors as well as our history for 1 billion yen," he said. "There can be no final and irreversible agreement with Japan. It must be scrapped and Japan must apologize and bear legal responsibility."
In the verbal agreement on Dec. 28, 2015, the two governments agreed the sexual slavery issue would be resolved for good. It was agreed the Japanese government would offer 1 billion yen ($8.5 million) to the Korean government, and Seoul would stop raising the issue internationally.
In July, the Korean government founded the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation to distribute the money to survivors and has been persuading them to accept the money. At that time of the agreement, 46 victims remained alive, with 34 saying they would receive the money: 100 million won, each.
Over the year, seven of the 46 died. Of the surviving 39, 11 are refusing the money and Kim is one of them. "We don't need that money," said Kim. "We are not fighting because we need money, but for Japan's apology. President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byungse should resign for making the poor deal." The shrine, which honors millions of mostly Japanese war dead, including World War II criminals, has long been at the center of a diplomatic dispute among Japan, South Korea and China.
It is the second visit by a Japanese highranking official to Yasukuni after Seoul and Tokyo signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) last November to better counter growing nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea.
Prime Minister Abe is a history-denying, warmongering descendant of a World War II war criminal. Handling this calculative politician in his latest gambit on the "comfort women" issue, the foreign ministry deserves a big flunking F for its naivet?, defeatism and incompetence.
On October 3, Abe told the Japanese Parliament that he had not "a tip of a hair" of intention to do so. The expression is rarely used in ordinary life, and because it is too impolite to use in reply to Seoul's suggestion it means nothing less than an insult to Korea