TOKYO: Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada visited a Tokyo temple that pays homage to convicted war criminals among the nation’s war dead on Thursday, prompting a quick reproach from neighboring South Korea.
Inada’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine took place just two days after accompanying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a visit to the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii where he offered condolences to those who died in the attack Japanese in 1941.
“Independently of historical differences, whether they fought as enemies or allies, I believe that every country can understand that we want to express our gratitude, respect and gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives For their country, “Inada said.
Japan’s Asian neighbors bear bitter memories of the country’s atrocities before and during the Second World War, when it colonized or invaded much of the region.
Visits by key Japanese leaders to the sanctuary often attract complaints from countries such as China and South Korea that see them as attempts to launder this history of aggression in times of war. Since the sending of complaints during his visit to Yasukuni in December 2013, Abe instead sent gifts of money and religious ornaments.
The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was deplorable that the Inada had visited a sanctuary that “embellishes past colonial invasions and invading war and honors war criminals.”
The Ministry of Defense issued a similar statement, expressing “serious concern and regret.”
The visit to Yasukuni was the first in Inada since she became Minister of Defense, although she has regularly visited it in the past. A lawyer-turned-legist with little experience in defense, she is one of Abe’s protégés and a supporter of her long-cherished hope to revise the Constitution of Japan. It said that some parts of Article 9, which renounced war, should be abandoned, arguing that they could be interpreted as prohibiting the Japanese army.
Inada defended Japan’s wartime atrocities, including forcing many Asian women into sexual servitude in military brothels, and led a party committee to reassess the judgment of the war tribunals headed by the victorious allies.
His connection with a notorious group of Korea was recognized by a court this year in a defamation suit that it lost. Inada was also seen posing with the leader of a neo-Nazi group in a 2011 photo that surfaced in the media in 2014.