TOKYO, Aug 15 2018 : Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead today, the anniversary of Japan’s World War Two surrender, but did not visit in person.
Past visits by Japanese leaders to Yasukuni have outraged China and South Korea because the shrine honors 14 Japanese wartime leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, along with war dead.
Abe has only visited the shrine in person once since taking office in 2012 but has previously sent offerings.
Abe was due to speak at a separate annual memorial ceremony for war dead later today that will also be attended by Emperor Akihito – the last time he will take part in the event before abdicating next year.
Akihito expressed “deep remorse” over the war on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in 2015. That departure from his annual script – repeated on subsequent anniversaries – was seen by many liberals and moderate conservatives as a subtle rebuke to the conservative Abe, who has said future generations of Japanese should not have to keep apologizing for the conflict.
Akihito’s father, Emperor Hirohito, in whose name Japanese fought World War Two, stopped visiting Yasukuni after the wartime leaders were first honored by the shrine in 1978, and Akihito does not pay his respects there. – Reuters