S. Korea voices 'deep regrets' over Suga's offering to Yasukuni war shrine

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 18, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has sent an offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan's national broadcaster NHK reported on Saturday.

The prime minister sent a sacred masakaki tree in the name of the prime minister at the start of an annual autumn festival, a shrine spokeswoman said.

It would be Mr Suga's first such offering to the shrine since taking office last month.

"We express deep regrets that Japanese government and parliamentary leaders sent offerings again to the Yasukuni Shrine that glorifies Japan's history of wars of invasion and honors war criminals", Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Seen by neighboring countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, the shrine has always been a source of diplomatic friction with Japan's neighbors as it honors convicted war criminals together with the war dead.

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.

Yasukuni Shrine honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals.

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.

Many countries in the region are wary of China's growing maritime assertiveness - Vietnam is one of the claimants in territorial disputes in the South China Sea, while Indonesia's exclusive economic zone overlaps with China's nine-dash line. Tokyo says the matter was settled by a 1965 treaty normalizing bilateral relations.

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

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